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Buehrle loses fifth straight despite quality start

Encarnacion leaves with injury after driving in the Jays' only run

OAKLAND -- The Blue Jays find themselves in the middle of a crucial road trip on the West Coast but so far their lineup has not risen to the occasion.

The production from Toronto's offense has all but disappeared within the spacious confines of Stadium. Through three games vs Oakland, the pitching has continued to shine but the bats haven't held up their end of the bargain.

The Blue Jays had yet another quiet game at the plate while Mark Buehrle recorded a quality start but saw his losing streak extended to five games in a 5-1 loss to the A's on Saturday night. Even more devastating, though, was that Toronto might have lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a potentially serious injury.

"Bottom line, we played a [bad] game, there's no way around that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We didn't score again. We scored a run but it was a costly run with Edwin.

"The first night we scored a run on a replay, other than that they stuck it to us. In this business you're paid a lot of money to show up and play, no reason to get down. You're paid to play, show up and play. I don't expect anybody to get down."

Toronto entered the game on a 19-inning scoreless skid and while that came to an end in the first it also might have cost the Blue Jays one of their best players. With runners on the corners, Encarnacion suffered a right quadriceps injury on his way to first base.

Encarnacion beat the throw to avoid the double play but he immediately crumpled to the ground after touching first base. He rolled around on the ground and later had to be helped off the field by a pair of Blue Jays trainers. Encarnacion said after the game he felt a "pop" but his status won't be known until an MRI on Sunday.

That unfortunate play marked the only time the Blue Jays were able to score off A's starter Scott Kazmir. Toronto has lost three consecutive games to Oakland and have scored a total of two runs with 19 hits in those 30 innings. Kazmir allowed three hits and two walks while striking out eight and throwing 76 of his 113 pitches for strikes.

Toronto's struggles against left-handers aren't new. The Blue Jays entered the game hitting an American League-worst .234 vs. lefties and a .137 mark over their past 12 games. Toronto also saw its problems continue with runners in scoring position as the club went 0-for-5 and is now 41-for-212 (.193) over the past 28 games.

"It's just a matter of time, we're scuffling big-time out there, it's not our original lineup but you deal with it," Gibbons said. "You've got to keep plugging away, no one feels sorry for you in this business. Everybody gets hurt at some time or another. You've got to try to rise up."

Buehrle once again kept the Blue Jays close even though he gave up a lot of hard-hit balls early in the game. The A's hit a pair of deep fly balls during the second inning that would have easily been home runs at Rogers Centre but they died at the warning track in Oakland. Buehrle wasn't so lucky in the third when Josh Donaldson went deep to center for his 19th home run of the season.

The A's added two more in the fourth as Buehrle labored through a 34-pitch inning. Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry had a pair of RBI singles to give Oakland a 3-1 lead it would not relinquish. Buehrle allowed the three runs on 10 hits and one walk over six innings.

Buehrle hasn't won since June 1 but during that five-game losing streak he has allowed 16 earned runs in 40 innings for a 3.60 ERA. Buehrle is 10-1 when the Blue Jays score two or more runs but is 0-5 when his club scores one run or less.

"He's tough because he mixes speeds and he throws so many different pitches," Gentry said. "We were just lucky to [get] a few hits in here and there, and then got some big hits with guys in scoring position. I think once we pushed a couple runs across, Kaz did such a great job all night of keeping their bats silent, so hat's off to him."

Toronto attempted to rally in the eighth inning with two outs. Melky Cabrera kept the inning alive with a single and Jose Bautista followed with a double to the corner in left field. Cabrera attempted to score but was ruled out by home plate umpire Bill Miller on a close play at home. The Blue Jays challenged but following a brief delay it was ruled that the call would stand because there was not conclusive evidence to overturn.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, Mark Buehrle