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Jays let one slip away

Jays let one slip away
The Toronto Blue Jays knew coming into the season they'd have to live with the growing pains of their pitchers, and last night was one of those nights.

David Purcey coughed up an early four-run lead and Brandon League gave up a leadoff walk in the seventh that led to the go-ahead run as the Oakland Athletics cooled off their surging hosts with an 8-5 victory.

Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill homered for the Blue Jays (8-4), who seemed to pick up right where they left off while taking three of four from the Twins in Minnesota by jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the third before a crowd of 18,272.

But Purcey failed to nurse that lead for even half an inning, and the Blue Jays eventually buckled in what became a battle of bullpens.

League (1-1) walked Orlando Cabrera to open the seventh and he scored on Matt Holliday's RBI double for a 6-5 Oakland lead. An RBI single by Mark Ellis and run-scoring fielder's choice by Ryan Sweeney off League in the eighth made it 8-5 and sealed a third win in four outings for the Athletics (5-5).

Andrew Bailey (2-0) struck out four in two perfect innings of relief, and Michael Wuertz, Santiago Casilla and Brad Ziegler, handling the ninth for his third save, provided a scoreless inning each in relief of starter Josh Outman.

While the rough outings by Purcey and League prevented the Blue Jays from matching their best start since 2001, the loss wasn't their only bad news. Backup catcher Michael Barrett left the game in the fourth with a right shoulder injury and was taken to hospital for X-rays.

And manager Cito Gaston needed to use four relievers to cover 5 1/3 innings, which may limit his hand today when reliever Brian Tallet, limited to 70-75 pitches, starts in place of the injured Jesse Litsch.

The Blue Jays seemed to take control of things in the third inning when Hill ripped a two-run shot, Kevin Millar hit an RBI double and Vernon Wells scored on a Sweeney error as he fielded the ball for a 5-1 lead.

But Purcey fell apart after getting Nomar Garciaparra on a grounder to first to open the fourth, allowing back-to-back singles to Kurt Suzuki and Jack Cust, walking Ellis and then serving up a bases-clearing triple to Bobby Crosby, just his second hit of the season.

A great play by Scutaro on Sweeney's grounder up the middle gave Purcey a second out, but Crosby trotted home to tie things 5-5 on the wild pitch that led to Barrett's shoulder injury.

Barrett chased the ball to the Athletics on-deck circle when he fell awkwardly as he relayed the ball to the plate. He writhed in agony on the turf as Crosby scored.

Gaston pulled Purcey after sending Rod Barajas in behind the plate, and Jesse Carlson retired Jason Giambi to escape further trouble.

Purcey had seemed to settle after a rough start in the first, when he limited the damage against him to a Holliday RBI groundout. Scutaro tied the game in the bottom half, cranking Outman's second pitch of the game into the Jays bullpen in left field.

Notes: The Blue Jays skipped batting practice after landing at 2:45 a.m. from Minnesota. "BP's overrated anyway,'' said Gaston. . . . Tallet's start may not be a one-off. Gaston said Litsch could be out for around a month and that Tallet would likely cover his entire absence. . . . With the lefty Outman starting, Jose Bautista started in left field in place of Jays rookie Travis Snider. "It's not going to be that way all year,'' Gaston said of keeping the young phenom from lefties. "It also keeps Bautista sharp, too.''

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 18, 2009

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