TORONTO -- The Blue Jays returned home from a grueling three-city road trip desperately needing a victory, and Russell Martin made sure they got one.Martin homered and threw out Rajai Davis in a key situation as the Blue Jays escaped with a 4-2 victory over the A's on Monday night
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays returned home from a grueling three-city road trip desperately needing a victory, and Russell Martin made sure they got one.
Martin homered and threw out Rajai Davis in a key situation as the Blue Jays escaped with a 4-2 victory over the A's on Monday night at Rogers Centre. Martin finished 2-for-4 while Ezequiel Carrera also chipped in with a pair of hits as Toronto snapped its losing streak at three games.
"This group here has really put baseball back on the map in Canada. I don't forget that, I hope everybody else doesn't either," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the victory. "We'll show up every day, and two months from now, we'll see where we're at. It's a pretty good group."
Left-hander Francisco Liriano picked up the victory, even though he was pitching on three days' rest. Liriano scattered a pair of hits and two walks while striking out five to earn his first win since July 6. He lasted five innings with Joe Biagini and Dennis Tepera combining to toss three scoreless frames of relief in front of closer Roberto Osuna, who struck out the side to pick up save No. 25 of the season.
"Liriano a lot of times is either really good or has a little trouble, and we tried to drive his pitch count up, because he's pitching on three days' rest so he's probably not going to be out there too long," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But he did just enough, and the bullpen shut us down."
A's right-hander Chris Smith was saddled with the first loss of his big league career despite picking up a quality start. Smith allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with a pair of strikeouts in six innings, limiting the damage thanks to solid defensive support, particularly from rookie third baseman Matt Chapman, who also homered -- a solo shot off Liriano in the fifth -- for the third time in as many days.
The 36-year-old Smith was making the third start of his career and his 66th overall appearance, but this marked his first decision since June 24, 2008, when he was a member of the Red Sox.
"The stats, the line itself, look good, but just being out there, red lights are going off in your head," Smith said. "You see these guys on TV making pitchers look stupid, and there I am up there going, 'Oh God, here we go.' It was fun, but it was nerve-wracking."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Goins' moment:Ryan Goins isn't known for his bat, unless he happens to step to the plate with the bases loaded. Toronto's infielder has surprised as one of the top performers with the bases full, and he was up to his old tricks again on Monday night. During the fourth inning, with one run already in, Goins hit an RBI single up the middle to give Toronto a 3-1 lead. Goins is batting 9-for-12 with the bases loaded this season, which is one hit shy of matching Carlos Delgado's franchise record for the most hits with the bases loaded in one season.
Costly out: Liriano tossed two innings or fewer in each of his previous two starts, and early on, it appeared as though he might be in for another short night. The veteran lefty opened the game by walking Davis and Marcus Semien. Liriano's pitches were all over the place and he could not find the zone, but despite all of that, Davis took off for third base -- only to be thrown out by Martin. The move backfired, as Ryon Healy followed with an RBI single to left, and he ended up on second base when the ball bounced away from Steve Pearce. The A's had to settle for just one run in the inning, and Davis was thrown out for the sixth time this season.
"That has to be a perfect throw, and [Josh Donaldson] has to make the perfect tag to get him," Melvin said. "We're aggressive with those two guys on the bases and should be, but that was a real good defensive play."
"That wasn't a squeeze play. I don't know what happened there, to be honest with you. He was just bunting." -- Gibbons, on Kevin Pillar laying down a bunt with runners on first and third in the bottom of the sixth. Pearce was thrown out at the plate.
A's: Trade candidate Sonny Gray (6-4, 3.66 ERA) could potentially be making his final start in green and gold when he takes the bump for the A's in Tuesday's 4:07 p.m. PT contest with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Gray, long rumored to be dealt ahead of the Trade Deadline, has a 1.62 ERA over his past five starts.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Cesar Valdez (0-0, 2.70 ERA) will make his second start of the season when this series continues on Tuesday night, and it just so happens to be against his former team. Valdez made a handful of appearances for Oakland this year and joined Toronto as a waiver claim in May. He entered the rotation when Aaron Sanchez was placed on the disabled list late last week.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.