OAKLAND (AP) — The highest-scoring offense in the majors is heating up at the right time.
Russell Martin homered, doubled and drove in three runs, Josh Donaldson went deep against his former team and the Toronto Blue Jays powered past the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Thursday.
“Our one through nine is the best in baseball,” Donaldson said. “I think we continue to go out there on a night in, night out basis and continue to show that.”
The Blue Jays have scored 508 runs, by far the best in the majors. The next closest team, the New York Yankees, has scored 434.
Toronto continued its pop at the plate to give knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (4-10) all the support he needed. Dickey allowed two runs and five hits in 8 1-3 innings in place of ill starter Drew Hutchison, who is scheduled to take the mound in Friday’s series opener at Seattle instead.
The Blue Jays are trying to chase down the Yankees in the AL East and remain in contention before the July 31 trade deadline. Toronto is 5½ games behind New York, which has won four in a row and eight of 10.
“We have 13 games left against them, so that’s going to be on us,” Dickey said. “We just have to take care of business when we’re not playing them, and when we play them it’s going to come down to us playing better than they do. I’d like to see them lose a few more, though, that’s for sure.”
Bo Schultz got Ike Davis to ground into a double play for his first career save.
Drew Pomeranz started after the A’s traded lefty Scott Kazmir to Houston for a pair of minor leaguers before the game. Pomeranz gave up two runs in 1 2-3 innings, and the bullpen also struggled to contain Toronto’s potent hitters.
Dan Otero (2-4) allowed two runs in three innings for the loss.
The news of Kazmir’s trade caught A’s players by surprise. They spent the morning saying goodbye to Kazmir as he packed his bags in the clubhouse, and they looked equally baffled by Dickey’s tricky tosses.
“Everybody is sorry to see Scott go on a personal level, but it’s our job to go out there and focus on one particular day,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Dickey struck out six and walked one for his first win in six starts. His previous victory came against his former club, the New York Mets, on June 18.
But the Blue Jays are consistently riding the long ball to wins. After taking two of three at Tampa Bay and Oakland, Toronto is 4-2 since the All-Star break.
Martin’s 14th homer in the second inning gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead. It was his second long ball in three days at the Coliseum, which plays shorter in the dry afternoon sunshine than the thick air at night.
Billy Burns hit an RBI single and scored the tying run for the A’s on Josh Reddick’s grounder in the third.
In the fourth, Martin doubled with two outs and scored on Chris Colabello’s double to put the Blue Jays back in front. And Donaldson drove his 23rd homer to deep right-center off Otero in the fifth.
Martin also had a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Donaldson looked comfortable in his first series back in Oakland since being traded in the offseason for third baseman Brett Lawrie, right-hander Kendall Graveman, lefty Sean Nolin and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto. He finished 5 for 13 with one home run, two doubles and three RBIs in three games.
“I said before the series started, this wasn’t just a normal series for me. There were definitely some emotions there,” Donaldson said.
Blue Jays: SS Jose Reyes was replaced in the eighth after a ball hit him in the face. Burns slid head-first into Reyes’ left ankle at second while hustling for a double, and the ball popped up and caused Reyes’ mouth to bleed. Reyes said he should be fine.
Athletics: OF Coco Crisp continues to progress from a neck injury that has sidelined him since May 20. Melvin said no decision has been made on whether Crisp will make a minor league rehab assignment, which he has turned down in the past.
Blue Jays: Hutchison (9-2, 5.19 ERA) is scheduled to start against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez on Friday. If Hutchison is still ill and unable to make the start, right-hander Marco Estrada will take the mound.
Athletics: RHP Jesse Chavez (5-9, 3.21 ERA), who tossed six scoreless innings in his last start against Minnesota, looks to carry the momentum into the Bay Bridge Series opener at San Francisco.