Left-hander J.A. Happ pitched seven runless innings and Edwin Encarnacion homered as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Sunday to extend their winning streak to a season-best six games.
The Blue Jays (29-22) have won 16 of their past 21 games to occupy first place in the American League East. The Athletics (30-20), who lead the AL West, have lost four in a row.
Happ (4-1) allowed four hits and three walks while striking out seven in his longest outing of the season.
Dustin McGowan replaced Happ in the eighth and allowed Josh Donaldson’s 11th homer of the season. Casey Janssen pitched the ninth inning to earn his seventh save in as many tries this season.
A’s left-hander Drew Pomeranz (4-2) allowed five hits, four walks and two runs in four-plus innings.
The Blue Jays did not have a hit until Encarnacion homered to left on a 2-2 fastball with one out in the fourth. It was his 14th of the year and the 12th of the month, tying him with Jose Bautista for the team record for homers in May. The run also snapped a string of 18 consecutive runless innings for Pomeranz.
The Blue Jays went on to load the bases in the inning on singles by Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro and a walk by Steve Tolleson, but Erik Kratz grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the fifth on a single to centre by Kevin Pillar, an infield hit by Jose Reyes and a walk to Melky Cabrera. Bautista singled off right-hander Jim Johnson to score one run, but Reyes was thrown out at home my left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Encarnacion’s pop to centre field dropped in but Bautista was forced at second on centre fielder Craig Gentry’s throw to Johnson covering second base. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons immediately challenged but the review upheld the call. Unconvinced, Gibbons argued and was ejected for the first time this season.
Bautista’s sacrifice fly against right-hander Luke Gregerson in the seventh gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. Reyes opened the inning with a single and stole second and third before coming home on Bautista’s fly out.
Reyes finished the game with three steals, tying a career best for the shortstop who has done it eight times. The previous time was Sept. 25, 2008, against the Chicago Cubs when he was with the New York Mets.