TORONTO – Playing catchup all night, the Toronto Blue Jays erased three deficits against the Oakland Athletics before finally succumbing to the fourth.
Closer Jeremy Accardo, the fifth Toronto pitcher of the night, gave up the winning run in the ninth on Ryan Sweeney’s RBI triple in a 9-8 loss Tuesday.
An inning earlier, Frank Thomas put a charge into the crowd of 31,336 with his third homer in three games, a two-run bomb off Alan Embree (1-1) that tied things up 8-8.
But Accardo (0-1) put the Blue Jays (4-3) right back behind the 8-ball, giving up a two-out single to Kurt Suzuki before Sweeney found the gap in right-centre to put the Athletics (4-4) back up.
Huston Street wrapped things up in the bottom of the ninth for his first save.
This was a wild one right from the start as both Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett and Oakland’s Chad Gaudin were roughed up for six runs apiece. Gaudin came off the disabled list to start in place of Victoria’s Rich Harden, who skipped the outing with a muscle strain in his upper arm and back.
Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill also homered for the Blue Jays, who were coming off a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, while the Athletics got contributions up and down the lineup.
Oakland went up 8-6 in the sixth when Brian Tallett gave up his first runs of the season. They had the bases loaded and scored one on Jack Cust’s fielder’s choice and another when David Eckstein’s relay to first looking for the double play was wild.
The Blue Jays tied the game in the fourth, when Lyle Overbay opened the inning with a single and Hill followed by ripping a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for his first of the season. Marco Scutaro then walked, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by Gaudin, advanced to third on Gregg Zaun’s groundout and scored on Eckstein’s single to make it 6-6.
Wells’ three-run shot in the first – coming after Mike Sweeney’s RBI double opened the scoring in the top of the frame – looked to have sent the Blue Jays on their way.
But the Athletics laid a whipping on Burnett in a five-run second.
Bobby Crosby singled and Jack Hannahan walked, a wild pitch advanced them both, and then Suzuki made it 3-2 with an RBI groundout, Ryan Sweeney and Travis Buck ripped back-to-back RBI doubles, Buck’s ending an 0-for-22 slide to open season, Mark Ellis followed with a run-scoring triple and Daric Barton capped things off with a sacrifice fly.
Burnett settled to get through the next two innings before getting the hook with two aboard and two out in the fifth. In all he allowed six runs on 10 hits and two walks, with one strikeout.
Gaudin wasn’t much better, allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits and a walk, in four innings.
Notes: Harden expects to make his next start versus Cleveland on Saturday. … Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan will take another step forward in his rehab, moving up to triple-A Syracuse for Friday after making a third appearance for single-A Dunedin on Wednesday. … The A’s placed starter Justin Duchscherer on the DL Tuesday and recalled Greg Smith to pitch in his place Wednesday against Dustin McGowan. … Bucks single leading off the sixth ended a run of 13 straight batters retired by Tallett.