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Oakland Athletics end road with fourth consecutive loss

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POSTED May 25, 2014 9:38 p.m.

TORONTO (AP) — After a red-hot start to their road trip, the Oakland Athletics are heading home stuck in their longest slump of the season.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a towering home run, J.A. Happ won his third straight start and the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of Oakland, beating the Athletics 3-1 on Sunday.

The AL West-leading Athletics lost their fourth straight. Oakland, which came in leading the AL in runs, has scored just seven times in the past four games.

“You’re not always going to score seven, eight runs a game and right now we’re going through a drought,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

Oakland won five straight over Cleveland and Tampa Bay to begin this trip, but lost an 11-inning finale to the Rays on Thursday before being swept by the Blue Jays for the first time since 2008.

“When you win the first five it’s pretty disappointing to lose the next four,” Melvin said.

The long game Thursday let to a late arrival in Toronto, where three more games on an artificial surface took a further toll.

“I think some of us are just a little worn down from the last six games on turf,” Oakland catcher Derek Norris said.

Oakland returns home Monday to host AL Central-leading Detroit in an afternoon game on Memorial Day. Tigers lefty-hander Tommy Milone (2-3) faces Athletics lefty Drew Smyly (2-2).

The Blue Jays, who lead the AL East, won their season-best sixth straight. It’s Toronto’s longest streak since an 11-game run last June. The Blue Jays have won 11 of 13 and 16 of 21.

“We caught them when they were hot and they handed it to us,” Melvin said.

Encarnacion hit a one-out drive into the second deck off Athletics left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the fourth. The homer was Encarnacion’s 12th this month, tying the team record for May set by Jose Bautista in 2010.

“When he gets hot, nobody can stop him,” shortstop Jose Reyes said of Encarnacion.

The Blue Jays record for home runs in a month is 14, set by Bautista in June, 2012.

Encarnacion’s 14 home runs this season are tied for third most in the majors. Only Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz (16) and Chicago White Sox Jose Abreu (15) have hit more.

The Blue Jays lead the majors with 70 home runs, and have connected in eight straight games. Toronto has hit an ML-best 38 homers in May.

Happ (4-1) allowed four hits in a season-high seven shutout innings. He walked three and struck out a season-high seven.

“He took hold of the mound and never looked back,” Norris said of Happ.

Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff homer off Dustin McGowan in the eighth for Oakland’s only run. Casey Janssen finished for his seventh save in as many chances.

Encarnacion’s homer snapped a streak of 18 scoreless innings by Pomeranz, who hadn’t allowed a run since the eighth inning of a May 2 loss at Boston.

Bautista greeted reliever Jim Johnson with a first-pitch RBI single in the fifth, but Reyes was thrown out trying to score from second on a one-hop throw by Yoenis Cespedes.

One batter latter, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for the first time this season after losing a replay challenge.

Gibbons challenged after second base umpire Paul Schrieber ruled that Bautista had been forced out on Encarnacion’s blooper to shallow center field.

After a review of 2 minutes, 24 seconds, it was ruled that Schrieber’s call stood. Gibbons returned to the field to argue and was quickly ejected by home plate umpire Mark Carlson.

Toronto made it 3-0 in the seventh when Reyes singled off Luke Gregerson, stole second and third and scored on Bautista’s sacrifice fly.

Pomeranz (4-2) allowed two runs and five hits in four innings, the shortest of his four starts this season. The left-hander walked a season-high four and struck out three.

“I wasn’t attacking guys like I should have,” Pomeranz said.

NOTES: Reyes matched a career high with three stolen bases, achieving the feat for the first time since September 2008. ... Oakland INF Nick Punto (left calf) missed his second straight game. ... Attendance was 45,277, Toronto’s fourth sellout of the season.

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