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Oakland’s slow start continues

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April 6, 2011 | Leave Comment

TORONTO — Dallas Braden isn’t panicking about Oakland’s poor start to the season.

Travis Snider hit a three-run home run, Yunel Escobar had three hits before leaving with an injury and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Braden and the Athletics, 5-3, on Wednesday night.

Oakland has lost four of five to start the season and will try to avoid being swept by Toronto on Thursday afternoon. The Athletics visit Minnesota and Chicago before returning home.

“We have a tough trip obviously but I like the way we’ve been playing,” manager Bob Geren said. “We’ve been playing a lot better overall, swinging the bats a little better. The starting pitching has been fantastic.”

Still, some victories would be nice.

“Hopefully we’ll put all three facets of the game together (Thursday),” outfielder Josh Willingham said. “We need to get a win this series, for sure.”

Braden (0-1), who allowed 10 hits and five runs in seven-plus innings, understands there’s plenty of time to right the ship.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Braden said. “But I don’t feel like we’re so down and out or at the bottom of the barrel or anything like that. I don’t have that sense at all about this team. For game five to feel like we’re behind the 8-ball or feel like we’re not doing our best, I think it’s a little early.”

Jesse Litsch pitched 6 1/3 innings for his first win since July 20 and Jon Rauch got two outs for his first save as the Blue Jays won for the eighth time in 11 games against the Athletics.

Starting for the first time since Aug. 1, Litsch allowed three runs and six hits, walked two and struck out a career-high seven. Litsch missed the end of last season after undergoing hip surgery.

Oakland, which came in with a major league high nine errors through four games, didn’t make another miscue but did misplay two balls. Escobar was involved both times, picking up a single after third baseman Andy LaRoche couldn’t handle his grounder in the first, and a triple on a ball that eluded right fielder David DeJesus in the fifth.

Escobar was shaken up after sliding face first into LaRoche’s leg on his triple, laying on the ground and being tended to by the trainer before getting up. Escobar ran the bases and played defense in the sixth but was replaced by John McDonald in the seventh after complaining of dizziness.

“We’re hopeful and at least cautiously optimistic at this point that we’re not entertaining something like (a concussion),” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Adam Lind’s RBI double in the first gave Toronto an early lead, but Oakland’s Hideki Matsui answered with a two-run double in the fourth.

After Juan Rivera walked and Edwin Encarnacion singled, Snider restored Toronto’s advantage with a booming drive to right in the bottom half, his first.

“I left one pitch north of the border and it ended up further north of the border,” Braden said. “That’s how that goes.”

The Athletics got one back in the fifth when Coco Crisp hit a two-out triple and scored on Daric Barton’s single.

Toronto chased Braden in the eighth when McDonald led off with an infield single and Lind followed with a ground-rule double. Brad Ziegler came on and gave up an RBI single to Aaron Hill but escaped further damage by striking out Rivera and getting Encarnacion to ground into a double play.

Braden walked one and struck out three.

Notes: Toronto LHP Ricky Romero (1-0) faces Oakland RHP Trevor Cahill (0-0) on Thursday. … Oakland placed RHP Michael Wuertz (strained left hamstring) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Tyson Ross from Triple-A Sacramento … Athletics 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, who made an error and misplayed two balls in Tuesday’s loss, was held out of the starting lineup but pinch hit in the seventh. … Oakland RHP Rich Harden (right shoulder) will throw a bullpen session Thursday. … A’s LHP Brian Fuentes, out since Apr. 2 with a sore finger, threw before the game and declared himself ready to return.

The Associated Press

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