Athletics-Blue Jays Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays have easily had the majors' highest-scoring offense this season, but now they're also reaping the benefits of a red-hot pitching staff.

The Blue Jays look to keep closing the gap in the AL East race with their ninth straight win Tuesday night when Brett Lawrie makes his return to Canada with the Oakland Athletics.

Toronto leads all of baseball by a wide margin with 5.28 runs per game, though at times it couldn't overcome a pitching staff that ranked 25th with a 4.24 ERA though July 7.

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The Blue Jays (61-52), however, have put it all together while winning 11 of 12. They've hit 22 home runs while averaging 5.58 runs and posted a 1.86 ERA over that stretch.

After David Price shut down the first-place New York Yankees in Saturday's 6-0 win, Marco Estrada's performance keyed Sunday's 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium that moved the club within 1 1/2 games of the division lead.

''Our confidence is pretty high and we're all enjoying the run," Estrada said.

Now the Blue Jays will turn to Drew Hutchison as they try to shut out an opponent in three consecutive games for only the second time in franchise history and first since May 1983.

Hutchison (10-2, 5.42 ERA) has gone 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 home starts compared to 2-1 with a 9.00 mark in his 11 on the road. His 8.08 run-support average is on pace to be the highest since Shawn Estes' 8.65 with San Francisco in 2000.

The right-hander has a 6.67 ERA over his last six outings. He allowed seven runs - three earned - over five innings in Wednesday's 9-7 home win over Minnesota.

In his only career start versus Oakland, Hutchison gave up three runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 road loss July 6, 2014. The A's, though, rank last in the majors with 2.95 runs per game since July 21.

Danny Valencia has been a bright spot since AL West-worst Oakland (51-62) picked him up off waivers from Toronto last week. He went 6 for 11 with two home runs and five RBIs to help the A's win the last three of a four-game series against division-leading Houston.

''You want to go there swinging the bat,'' Valencia said ahead of this three-game series at Rogers Centre. ''(The Blue Jays are) probably the hottest team in baseball right now.''

After spending his first four seasons in Toronto, Lawrie will make his return after getting moved in the Josh Donaldson trade during the offseason. The native of Langley, British Columbia, was one of the franchise's first marquee players from Canada.

Lawrie is batting .306 on the road - 70 points higher than in Oakland - and is a career .286 hitter in Toronto.

Kendall Graveman, who was also part of that blockbuster deal, will take the mound as Oakland looks to win four straight for the first time since a five-game run in late June.

The A's have dropped Graveman's last five starts while he's gone 0-3 with a 6.20 ERA. The right-hander yielded three runs over 5 2-3 innings in Wednesday's 7-3, 10-inning home loss to Baltimore.

Graveman (6-7, 3.90) surrendered six runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 7-1 home loss to the Blue Jays on July 21. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin homered off him. Martin went 7 for 11 with two homers in the series as Toronto took two of three.

Bautista has three homers in his last five games while Donaldson has seven in his past 11. Encarnacion is expected to get a chance to extend an 11-game hitting streak after sitting Sunday because of a tender finger on his left hand.