OAKLAND, Calif. – Newcomer Brandon Inge hit a game-ending grand slam to cap a five-run ninth inning rally that led the Oakland Athletics to a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
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.
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, giving Cordero his third blown save in his past four appearances.
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.
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.
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. Cespedes left batting practice early but the team did not disclose the reason why he did not play.
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.
Romero escaped a second-and-third, two-out jam in the sixth by getting Pennington to ground out and the game remained tied until the ninth.
Johnson's homer off Parker marked the first time in Parker's four career starts that he had allowed more than one run. He had been just the second pitcher since 1990, joining former Athletic Rich Harden, to throw at least five innings and allow one run or fewer in his first three major league starts. Parker allowed two runs, four hits and five walks in seven innings.
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.