for this game

Loaiza stars in long-awaited return

Aug 22, 2007 - 9:55 PM By Rod Mawhood PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) -- Esteban Loaiza did his best to make up for lost time.

Loaiza threw 7 2/3 strong innings in his long-awaited season debut as the Oakland Athletics finished off a rare three-game sweep at the Toronto Blue Jays with a 4-1 victory on Wednesday.

It was the fourth straight win for the Athletics, who notched their first sweep at the Rogers Centre since 2001.

It has been a long road to the first start of the year for the 35-year-old Loaiza (1-0), who opened the season on the disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck. He later injured his right knee while on rehab assignment, requiring surgery on May 31.

But that all was forgotten on Wednesday afternoon as the veteran righthander - a Blue Jay from 2000-02 - carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before improving to 6-4 lifetime against his former team. Loaiza allowed a run and two hits, striking out four and walking two.

"I felt great," Loaiza said. "I got one (a win) under my belt in my first start and I'm happy about it. I just got to continue now building up and staying strong."

Aaron Hill broke up Loaiza's no-hit bid in the fifth, drilling a 2-2 pitch left-center field for his 13th home run. Matt Stairs' double with one out in the sixth was the only other hit Loaiza allowed.

Despite the home run, Hill was not a happy following the contest. The American League leader in RBI among second baseman with 64, Hill is hitting just .156 (7-of-45) in his last 12 games.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have been held under 10 hits in their last five games.

"You know what, I'm just tired of saying I'm going to tip my cap" Hill said. "That's nothing but ourselves. We're just not swinging it, we're just not getting it done when we need too."

Meanwhile, Toronto's A.J. Burnett (7-7), in his third start since coming off the disabled list with tightness in his pitching shoulder, went seven innings but was able to hold onto a 1-0 lead in part due to the defense behind him.

Jeff DaVanon led off the seventh by reaching on a error when first baseman Matt Stairs was unable to bring in a throw from shortstop John McDonald. Burnett struck out Nick Swisher, but Jack Cust clobbered an 0-1 pitch into the Athletics' bullpen in right field for a 2-1 edge.

"He (Burnett) just left a pitch a little bit towards the heart of the plate," Cust said. "It was the same pitch I fouled off earlier in the game, I just didn't miss it that time."

After Marcos Scutaro grounded out, Burnett walked Dan Johnson before Mark Ellis doubled to deep center field to add another run. Ellis scored directly after when the second baseman Hill was unable to handle a grounder from rookie Jack Hannahan.

Only one of the four runs surrendered by Burnett in the seventh was earned. The righthander also allowed four hits and three walks along with nine strikeouts.

"Every loss is a tough loss," said Burnett, who is now only three strikeouts shy of 1,000 for his career. "I missed a spot with a fastball and the guy hit it where he was supposed to. That's the only one (pitch) I'd take back."

Burnett had won his previous two starts, allowing just three runs and six hits over 13 2/3 frames.

Oakland lefthander Alan Embree allowed a hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings for his 16th save.

With the win, the Athletics moved back to the .500 mark (64-64) for the first time since the All-Star break.

"I think it's something in the back of everybody's mind," Cust said of the A's second-half surge. "A couple of weeks ago I don't think we were thinking about that, but with our starting pitching anything can happen. We just have to keep this rolling."

However, Oakland still has a long way to go, sitting nine games back in the wild card and 11 1/2 back in the AL West.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    OAKLAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 4 7 0
    TORONTO 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 2 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: OAK - ESTEBAN LOAIZA, ALAN EMBREE (8TH) AND KURT SUZUKI
    TOR - A.J. BURNETT, BRIAN WOLFE (8TH), SCOTT DOWNS
    (8TH), JASON FRASOR (9TH) AND GREGG ZAUN

    HOME RUNS: OAK

    Aug 22 3:15 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY AARON HILL ALLOWED MARK ELLIS TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, J HANNAHAN ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 4
    TORONTO 1 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: K SUZUKI (.248, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 2:23 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MARK ELLIS SCORED DAN JOHNSON.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, M ELLIS ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 3
    TORONTO 1 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: J HANNAHAN (.259, 1-FOR-2)

    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 2:22 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY JACK CUST (21) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 7TH OFF A.J. BURNETT SCORED JEFF DAVANON.
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 2, TORONTO 1
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: M SCUTARO (.263, 1-FOR-2)

    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 2:16 PM
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    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 1:55 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY AARON HILL (13) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF ESTEBAN LOAIZA.
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 0, TORONTO 1
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: G ZAUN (.239, 0-FOR-1)

    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 1:51 PM
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    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 1:48 PM
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    Athletics vs. Blue JaysAug 22 1:38 PM