(The Sports Xchange) - The Toronto Blue Jays thought they would be facing Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray on Thursday.
But the right-hander developed back spasms and could not pitch and they faced Jesse Chavez instead of Gray, who leads the American League with a 2.06 ERA.
Chavez pitched well but was done in by a four-run second inning keyed by Ryan Goins’ three-run homer while Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle pitched into the eighth.
It was just enough for the Blue Jays, who completed a three-game sweep of the Athletics with a 4-2 victory to extend their winning streak to 11 games.
“It was one of those games,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We were fortunate to get that big inning and Jesse Chavez was really, really good. Good win.”
The Blue Jays (64-52) entered Thursday with a half-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the American League East. The 11-game win streak equals a franchise high, most recently accomplished June 2-14.
Chavez (6-12) allowed all four runs in the second.
Catcher Dioner Navarro, first baseman Justin Smoak and center fielder Kevin Pillar hit successive one-out singles to produce one run.
Goins, who played shortstop with Troy Tulowitzki getting the day off, hit his fourth homer of the season to score three more for a 4-0 lead.
”Just one pitch,“ Chavez said. ”Trying to go up and in. He just got the hands out and beat me to it. I thought it was a good pitch and it as out of the zone.
“Here, if you get the ball up, it’s got a chance to go. He got it up and it went.”
Chavez allowed six hits and no walks while striking out nine in six innings before left-hander Drew Pomeranz took over in the seventh.
”I think he went in with the right attitude,“ Athletics catcher Josh Phegley said. ”I don’t think you want to be ambushed like that and be thrown in there.
”It was tough not to see Sonny in there. We’ve counted on him all year and he’s been there for us all year. (Chavez) didn’t use it as an excuse.
“He threw the ball great. I told him take one pitch away from there and it’s a great outing and we win the game.”
Buehrle (13-5) allowed seven hits, two walks and two runs while striking out two for his fourth successive win.
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury