OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Carlos Pérez broke out of a lengthy batting slump with a two-run homer off Hyun Jin Ryu and the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Wednesday.
It was a milestone day for Ryu. The 36-year-old left-hander threw 77 pitches in his seventh start after beginning the season in the minors. That’s one more start than Ryu had in 2022, when his season was cut short in June due to Tommy John surgery.
Pérez’s sixth home run of the season accounted for the only A’s runs scored off Ryu (3-2), who allowed five hits and had five strikeouts with one walk. The loss was his first since Aug. 1, when he made his season debut.
Kevin Smith, called up from the minors before the game, added a three-run homer off Trevor Richards for the A’s. Oakland had lost two straight to the Blue Jays after sweeping Shohei Ohtani and the Angels to begin its homestand.
Davis Schneider homered for Toronto. The Blue Jays started the day with a half-game lead over the Rangers for the third AL wild-card spot.
A’s starter JP Sears (4-11) pitched five uneven innings and earned his first win since July 28. Sears, who leads the majors in hit batters, worked around four walks and allowed four hits and one run.
Ryu began the game by retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth, despite a great defensive play by first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
After Ryan Noda reached on a fielder’s choice, Pérez slammed a 2-2 fastball into the left field stands.
Pérez was also part of Oakland’s three-run sixth, when he and Jordan Diaz opened the inning with consecutive singles against Richards. Smith followed with his fifth home run, and first since June 11.
Sears pitched well enough to win, but the pitching highlight for the A’s was the return of top pitching prospect Mason Miller, who missed 105 games with a right forearm strain. Miller had three strikeouts and threw 27 pitches in two hitless innings.
Dany Jimenez followed Miller and allowed one run in one inning. Trevor May retired three batters in the ninth and picked up his 18th save.
Guerrero is obviously well known for his bat, but the slugger is pretty good defensively as well, evidenced by his 2022 Gold Glove. Guerrero flashed some of that talent in the fourth inning against the A’s. With a runner at second in the fourth, Guerrero stabbed Ryan Noda’s sharp liner and then threw across the diamond to get Brent Rooker sliding into third. Replays showed Guerrero smiling and taping his gloved hand after making the play.
Athletics: RHP Devin Sweet was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and LHP Easton Lucas was selected from Las Vegas. LHP Sam Long and RHP Zach Neal were optioned to Las Vegas. RHP Spencer Patton was designated for assignment.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (9-5, 3.63 ERA) faces the Royals on Friday. Kikuchi got the win against Kansas City in his first start of the season April 4.
Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (4-4, 3.81) faces the Rangers on Friday seeking his first win in five career starts against Texas.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Michael Wagaman, The Associated Press