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Blue Jays continue to swing a hot bat in downing Oakland Athletics

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 25th, 2016

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TORONTO – Ezequiel Carrera and Jose Bautista homered Sunday as the Toronto Blue Jays continued to swing a hot bat in a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

It was a battle of the long ball with Oakland slugging three solo shots and both teams falling just short of the fence on several other occasions.

The Toronto attack, which was sluggish to open the season, woke up against the Athletics with 20 runs, 32 hits and six home runs to win the series two games to one. Carrera, a backup outfielder, helped trigger the offence with seven hits over the three games.

The Jays (10-10) have won two straight while the Athletics (10-9) have lost two in a row after starting the campaign with seven consecutive road wins.

Drew Hutchison, called up from the minors for a one-off start to give Toronto’s rotation an extra day’s rest, left to a standing ovation after giving up just two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two, throwing 55 strikes in a 95-pitch outing.

The only blemishes on his afternoon were solo homers by Khris Davis, in the second, and Josh Reddick, in the sixth. Chris Coghlan also homered off Jesse Chavez in a seventh inning that saw two other A’s hammer moonshots to the warning track.

Roberto Osuna pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.

There was a full house of 46,300 for Josh Donaldson MVP Bobblehead Day, with fans lining up for hours before the game to get one of the 20,000 giveaways.

Prior to the game, the reigning AL MVP was presented with his Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting third baseman in the American League, as well as Players Choice Awards as 2015 Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player to a standing ovation. The 30-year-old Florida native also caught the ceremonial first pitch from his mother, Lisa French.

Donaldson had the fans on their feet in the first inning when his deep drive to left was caught at the edge of the warning track in left.

Toronto sent nine men to the plate in a four-run third that opened with Carrera slamming a solo homer to the second deck in right-centre. The other three runs came with two outs on an intentional walk and three singles as starter Eric Surkamp (0-2) wobbled through a 30-pitch inning.

Carrera, making the most of left-fielder Michael Saunders’ sore hamstring, had raised his batting average by 142 points to .318 on Saturday after going 4-for-5 with three singles and a ground-rule double for the first four-hit outing of his career. On Sunday, the 28-year-old Venezuelan singled and homered (his first of the season and sixth of his major-league career).

Bautista kept the scoreboard ticking with a two-run homer to left-centre in the fourth, driving in Donaldson with his fourth of the season.

Edwin Encarnacion almost joined the long ball parade in the seventh but his drive hit near the top of the wall and was restricted to a double. There was no such joy for Oakland DH Mark Canha, who struck out four times in his four trips to the plate. Canha has just four hits this season but three of those are homers.

Catcher Russell Martin, who left Friday’s game early with a sore neck, was a late scratch after starting Saturday. He was replaced by Josh Thole.

Surkamp, called up from the minors April 8, lasted 4 2/3 innings in his fourth start this season for the Athletics, gave up six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and four walks. The six-foot-five left-hander faced 26 batters in a rough 97-pitch outing that included 54 strikes.

On his fourth team with the majors, he has not won as a starter since Sept. 12, 2011, against San Diego.

The 25-year-old Hutchison was the Jays’ Opening Day starter in 2015, when he went 13-5 with a 5.57 ERA, but found himself on the outside looking in this season and opened for the Jays’ farm team in Buffalo. He is 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA in three starts with the Triple-A Bisons.

Hutchison (1-0) came into the game with a 29-21 record with a 4.92 earned-run average in the majors. Twenty of those wins came at the Rogers Centre where he was 20-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 34 games prior to Sunday.

Marcus Stroman will start Monday against right-hander Miguel Gonzalez as the Chicago White Sox come to town.

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