OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Francisco Cordero walked off the mound with his head down as the Oakland Athletics celebrated behind him. A few more endings like that and Cordero knows he might not be closing close games for the Toronto Blue Jays anymore.
Newcomer Brandon Inge hit a game-ending grand slam to cap a five-run ninth inning rally that led Oakland to a 7-3 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night.
``You can say it's been frustrating,' Cordero said. ``You got a team that keeps battling back, comes back and take the lead and gave me the ball in the ninth inning and I just blew it again. It's my third blown save in a row. I have to pitch better or I'm going to find myself either out of that situation or maybe out of the team. I have to do my job. It doesn't matter how but I have to do it or I'm not going to have a job at all.'
The Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the ninth off Grant Balfour (1-1) when Eric Thames hit a leadoff triple and scored on Kelly Johnson's two-out single before the A's rallied to win it in the bottom half, handing Cordero his third blown save in his past four appearances.
Manager John Farrell said it was too soon after the game to consider changing closers, but said Cordero needs to do a better job putting hitters away.
``The three outs in the ninth are pretty tough for us right now,' he said.
Michael Taylor, who struck out his first three at_bats, hit an opposite-field fly that landed just inside the right-field line for a leadoff double off Francisco Cordero (1-2) and went to third on Jemile Weeks' sacrifice. Cliff Pennington followed with an RBI single to right field to tie the game.
Pennington stole second and Cordero intentionally walked Josh Reddick. After a passed ball advanced the runners, Cordero intentionally walked Jonny Gomes. Inge then ended it with a drive into the left-field seats. It was his seventh career game-ending homer and the first game-ending slam for Oakland since Mark Ellis did it June 8, 2008, against the Angels.
``I don't think I made any good pitches tonight,' Cordero said. ``The only good pitch I made, it went up the line for a double. It's hard for me to explain what's going on but like I said, I have to make better pitches, I have to get people out or I won't have a job at all.'
It was quite the welcome to Inge, who joined the Athletics on their recent East Coast trip and was playing his first home game with the team. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and hit into one double play before delivering the biggest blow of the night.
``I'm so happy here right now,' Inge said. ``I fit in. It's a new start for me. I welcomed it. I know we have a young ballclub, but they can play. I'm honored to be a part of this ballclub and trying to help them win. That's what feels the best.'
The A's returned from a successful 5-4 East Coast road trip to a dose of bad news. Opening day starter Brandon McCarthy had to be skipped in the rotation because of a sore right shoulder and then cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes was scratched about an hour before the game after injuring the back of his left hand in batting practice. Cespedes will have an X-ray and MRI on Wednesday.
The teams traded two-run homers in the first five innings with Johnson connecting with his seventh of the season in the second for Toronto off Jarrod Parker and Reddick answering with his team-leading sixth in the fifth inning for Oakland against Ricky Romero.
NOTES: Romero allowed two runs, five hits and five walks with seven strikeouts in six innings. ... Six of Johnson's seven homers have either tied the game or given Toronto the lead. ... A's reliever Ryan Cook pitched a perfect eighth and has allowed only three hits with 15 strikeouts in 15 2-3 scoreless innings this season. ... McCarthy was pushed back to Saturday against Detroit after complaining of a sore shoulder after Sunday's bullpen session. He will throw a bullpen session Thursday to see if he will make his next start. ... The series finale Wednesday features a matchup of former college teammates at California when Tyson Ross takes the mound for Oakland against Toronto's Brandon Morrow. The two were teammates at Cal in 2006.
The Associated Press News Service
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