Pearce hits 10th-inning grand slam, Jays sweep A’s, win 8-4
By Ian Harrison
TORONTO (AP) — Steve Pearce became the latest Blue Jay to hit a game-ending home run.
Pearce hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.
“Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling,” Pearce said. “We’re getting down to the end of the season so we’ve got to step it up and this was a great series to get it started.”
Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck. The grand slam was the second of his career and first since May 2015.
The Blue Jays won consecutive games on home runs for the first time in team history.
Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.
Treinen got the ninth in place of Santiago Casilla, who blew Wednesday’s game. The Athletics have blown five of their past six save opportunities.
“We’re just having trouble finishing off games,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Toronto has hit four game-ending home runs this season, the third-highest total in team history. They hit six in 2011.
Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, a solo blast in the first.
Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.
Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 12 of 13 in Toronto.
In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.
Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.
Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six. Asked about the ejection afterward, he had little to say.
“When it comes to umpires or any of that, I’m not going to be making any comments about that,” Stroman said. “I want to make my next start.”
Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.
Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.
Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak’s two-out single.
Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney’s two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.
Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
“It kind of stings a little bit,” Manaea said. “We had an opportunity to win and just didn’t put it together.”
Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien’s two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.
GETTING THE AX
Oakland RHP John Axford, the NL saves leader in 2011, was designated for assignment. Melvin said it was tough to cut Axford, citing his veteran presence in the clubhouse. Axford went 0-1 with no saves and a 6.43 ERA in 22 appearances.
WORST IN THE FIRST
Blue Jays pitchers have an AL-worst 6.35 ERA in the first inning.
Athletics: C Josh Phegley (left oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. … RHP Ryan Dull (right knee) was activated off the DL, taking Axford’s spot on the roster.
Blue Jays: Quality control coach Derek Shelton replaced first base coach Tim Leiper (illness) midway through the game.
Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (2-5, 5.40) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. Gossett has allowed at least one homer in seven of his first eight starts. Newly acquired LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7. 4.30) goes for the Twins.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Happ allowed a season-high seven earned runs in his previous outing, a July 23 loss at Cleveland. RHP Parker Bridwell (4-1, 3.09) starts for the Angels.