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Purcey lets big lead slip away


Purcey lets big lead slip away
They can still hit it. Five runs, including a pair of home runs, should be enough to get it done on most nights, particularly when the Toronto Blue Jays stake their starting pitcher to a 5-1 lead.

But getting starters not named Roy to go deep in games might be a problem.

Last night an erratic David Purcey couldn't get out of the fourth inning despite a four-run advantage and the Jays dropped the first date of their six-game home stand, 8-5 to the Oakland A's.

The big left-hander walked four, gave up four hits and five runs in front of 18,272 at the Rogers Centre.

"It's something he certainly has to get over," Jays manager Cito Gaston said of Purcey, who has now walked 13 batters in 151/3 innings over three starts. "You can't walk that many guys up here and expect to win."

Toronto falls to 8-4. Oakland improved to 5-5 with its third successive road win.

Gaston will have the Scotch tape out today when he improvises in the absence of previously injured Jesse Litsch. If the offence dries up things might get tight.

Last night Gaston had to use five pitchers just when he was trying to save his bullpen to pick up the slack this afternoon when Brian Tallet, with a pitch-count limit of 75, makes his first start out of the bullpen in place of Litsch.

Gaston joked before the game he hoped Tallet could spread his pitches over nine innings. Not so funny now, after Purcey was sloppy in his third start of the season and pulled early.

"He kind of pitches like that," said Gaston, after watching his starter blow a four-run lead in the top of the fourth inning. "He'll be good one inning and go back the other way or have two or three good innings and drop off."

After a couple of ragged early innings Purcey seemed to find his groove in the third when he dispatched Oakland in order - albeit after opening the third by hitting a batter. The Jays' still-sizzling offence responded in the bottom of the inning when a two-run homer by Aaron Hill - his fourth of the year - and a two-out, two-run double by Kevin Millar staked Purcey to a 5-1 lead. A leadoff homer by Marco Scutaro accounted for Toronto's other run.

But with one out in the top of the fourth Purcey loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before giving up a triple to light-hitting Bobby Crosby, who scored one batter later when Purcey uncorked a wild pitch.

Making things worse, Toronto catcher Michael Barrett left the game after injuring his right shoulder as he dove to retrieve the ball in an unsuccessful effort to throw out the runner. It appeared he landed on a weighted doughnut in the A's on-deck circle. He was taken for X-rays. There was no word if the Jays would be calling up a replacement.

Gaston switched Purcey out for Jesse Carlson as Rod Barajas came in to catch, and another uneven outing for Purcey was in the books.

There was some good work in relief of Purcey by Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor, but Brandon League allowed Oakland to pull ahead with a two runs on two hits and a wild pitch in the eighth, and for once the Jays' offence couldn't bail them out as they played the last five innings without scoring a run.

While A's starter Josh Outman was no more effective than Purcey, four Oakland relievers held the Jays to one hit in the final four innings.

"That was a tough loss," said first baseman Kevin Millar. "We had the game in hand, scored four runs and they came right back, we weren't able to get a shut-down inning. ... Their bullpen was pretty tough."

Asked if he had any advice for Purcey, Millar summed it up nicely.

"You have to pound the strike zone at this level," he said. "There's no secret about that."

League (1-1) got charged with the loss. Andrew Bailey got the win while Brad Ziegler got his third save.

*****

ON DECK

NOTES The Toronto Blue Jays went into last night leading the major leagues in batting average (.317), runs (77), hits (128), doubles (29), extra-base hits (50), total bases (218) and tied for first in home runs (19). ... Toronto has won its first three series of the 2009 season. The Jays have never started a season with four successive wins in series of at least three games. ... Manager Cito Gaston cancelled batting practice yesterday, as his team got back to Toronto in the wee hours after closing out a series in Minnesota. ... With an early game today, Gaston decided to sit veteran third baseman Scott Rolen for the second of the Jays' three-game set with Oakland. ... Gaston said long-reliever Brian Tallet would be allowed to exceed 75 pitches starting in place of the injured Jesse Litsch if he got into the fifth inning with a chance to win.

Next Today, Oakland A's at Rogers Centre, 1:07 p.m. EDT

Probable pitchers Jays LHP Brian Tallet (0-0, 6.14 ERA) v. A's RHP Trevor Cahill (0-1, 2.25)

TV Rogers Sportsnet

Michael Grange


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

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