TORONTO (CBS / AP) — Brett Lawrie hit his first career grand slam and the feisty Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Wednesday night.
Before the game, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, manager John Farrell and several players angrily denied an ESPN story that Toronto has been stealing signs with the help of someone stationed in the outfield.
Then both benches and bullpens emptied in the eighth when Oakland’s Jordan Norberto hit Yunel Escobar on the left arm with a pitch. Escobar yelled and took several steps toward the mound but was restrained by catcher Kurt Suzuki, while Norberto walked toward the plate, responding to Escobar with his arms spread wide. No punches were thrown and the field was soon cleared.
The Athletics were seeking their fourth consecutive win, all coming on the road. But they instead dropped to 6-11 in their last 17 games in Toronto, dating to 2009.
Promoted from Triple-A on Friday, Lawrie drove a 2-0 pitch from left-hander Craig Breslow into the bullpen in left in the sixth inning. The 17th Canadian-born player in Blue Jays history, he came out of the dugout for a curtain call, much to the delight of the crowd of 19,541.
Lawrie also doubled off the wall in left in the eighth. He went 2 for 4 and is hitting .389 in five games since his promotion.
Casey Janssen (4-0) got one out for the victory and Jesse Litsch gave up a ninth-inning homer to Josh Willingham but worked the final 2 2-3 innings for his first career save.
Adam Lind gave the Blue Jays the lead with an RBI single in the first, but the Athletics answered with a three-run fourth against rookie right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who was making his major league debut.
David DeJesus hit a one-out solo drive to center, his eighth, giving Oakland at least one home run in each of the past eight games.
Conor Jackson followed with a single and scored on Ryan Sweeney’s double to left-center. Suzuki struck out before Scott Sizemore singled home Sweeney. Jemile Weeks followed with a drive to deep center, but Colby Rasmus made a running catch on the warning track.
Alvarez allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Toronto got the rookie off the hook with a five-run sixth. Lind led off with a double and Edwin Encarnacion walked before both runners advanced on Suzuki’s throwing error. Rasmus walked to load the bases and starter Gio Gonzalez was replaced by Breslow, who surrendered an RBI single to Aaron Hill. After J.P. Arencibia struck out, Lawrie launched his second homer.
The struggling Gonzalez (9-10) allowed four runs and four hits in five-plus innings and is 0-4 with an 8.43 ERA in his past four starts. He walked five, one shy of his season high, and struck out four.
Encarnacion hit an RBI double of Trystan Magnuson in the seventh and Rajai Davis singled in Lawrie in the eighth.
Willingham hit a two-out drive to left in the ninth. It was his sixth homer in 11 games and No. 19 overall.
NOTES: The A’s have gone deep 13 times in the past eight games. … Blue Jays RHP Dustin McGowan (shoulder) pitched four innings at Double-A New Hamsphire, allowing no runs and one hit. McGowan last pitched in the majors in 2008. … Oakland manager Bob Melvin said OF Coco Crisp, who has missed three games with sore right calf, is not likely to play this series.
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