Reddick's three home runs help A's cruise in Canada
Lowrie, Cespedes hit back-to-back HRs; Oakland snaps three-game skid
TORONTO -- Josh Reddick had himself a lost season, then he had himself a night.
A three-homer night that, at least until Saturday morning, will make all the other nights of a grueling season, most of them ending with Reddick slamming his bat to the ground, a distant memory.
"He had a smile on his face. He usually doesn't break a smile," said manager Bob Melvin. "Long time coming for him."
His A's teammates did some damage across the border, too, compiling 17 hits in a 14-6 thrashing of the overly hospitable Blue Jays in Friday's opener of a four-game set at Rogers Centre.
The runs amounted to a season high for the A's, who had plated just 15 total in their previous seven games, a woeful, disheartening stretch that resulted in six defeats and dropped them into a tie for first in the American League West.
Consider their offensive performance something of a big relief -- particularly for the 26-year-old Reddick, enduring what he deemed "a big fighting year for me, the worst of my career." If not for his Gold Glove defense, Reddick said, he's probably back in Triple-A by now.
"It feels fantastic," Reddick said. "I finally got something to go my way. You hit it over the wall, and they can't catch it, so fortunately there was no bad luck in the process of tonight.
"I'm going to come in here tomorrow with a big smile on my face. That's just a huge pickup, something I really needed -- not necessarily the home runs, just hitting the ball as well as I did tonight. Hopefully it's something I can continue the rest of the year."
Oakland's right fielder was in the middle of it all this time last year, with 25 home runs to his name in a campaign he ended with a team-leading 32. The skinny, shaggy-haired boy from Georgia with a bullet of an arm gained a fast-growing following in Oakland following a trade from the Red Sox, a faithful group of fans that has watched him struggle this year.
Reddick had five home runs and a dismal .203 average entering Friday. He stepped to the plate in the first inning, four runs already in thanks to back-to-back homers from Jed Lowrie (three-run shot) and Yoenis Cespedes, and weakly grounded out, as he's done countless times this year.
Then, in the third, he hit a towering, second-deck solo shot to right field. In the fifth, he launched another, this time to left for his first opposite-field home run since 2009. As if that wasn't impressive enough, Reddick greeted another challenge with a home run, hitting his third off a lefty, reliever Juan Perez.
That's when Seth Smith, standing on deck, thought, "How am I supposed to follow that?"
But the third was almost to be expected, Melvin said.
"Now it was a tough left-hander he had to do it against," the manager said, "but the second one surprised me more than the third one. He was feeling pretty good about himself after the second one, going opposite field."
Particularly since he didn't really know how he did it.
"Being late on 97 [miles per hour] and getting lucky," Reddick said, smiling. "I think that's what it was. He blew two pitches by me early on, and I was just trying to touch the ball. I fortunately got on it. Definitely my most impressive moment."
Reddick compiled five RBIs on the night -- the same amount he had in his previous 22 games combined.
It's the first time an A's player went deep three times in the same game since Erubiel Durazo on Aug. 18, 2004, against the Orioles. It's also just the second time all season Reddick's had a three-hit game.
"We're going to need his bat to go where we want to go," Lowrie said. "We don't need him to hit three home runs every night, although it would make it a lot easier if he did, but he's a great player and very capable.
"I'm happy for him. Hopefully that kind of gets him going. He should be proud of himself, because three home runs in a big league game is pretty impressive."
Reddick's heroics weren't cause for pause, though, as the A's added on with two more runs in the seventh, when Lowrie picked up his fourth hit. Oakland's shortstop, who has 14 games of three hits or more this season, fell a triple short of the cycle, collecting four RBIs.
Starter Jarrod Parker gave the A's six strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts, outperforming Esmil Rogers, who was tagged for seven runs in three innings.
Parker knows that he, too, was out-performed by Reddick. He didn't mind.
"Reddick was amazing," Parker said. "This could be a great thing for him and for us moving forward, getting hot at the right time."
"This team's been doing a great job all year, keeping us in first place without me," Reddick said, "and if I can stay like this, how I was tonight, just hitting the ball well, that's be all right."