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Laureano launches another game-winner, lifts A’s over Toronto

Ramon Laureano hit a game-winning, two-run homer for the second straight game to carry the A’s to a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays Monday night in the first game of this four-game series.

Marcus Semien returned to Oakland for the first time since signing with Toronto as a free agent, and received a standing ovation as he stepped up to the box for every at-bat. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk but was inches away from a three-run homer in the ugly third inning. He flew out to end it instead.

Steven Matz gave up three straight extra-base hits to put the A’s on the board in the second. Matt Chapman doubled to left field, then Jed Lowrie hit a ball off the right-field wall to make it 1-0. Stephen Piscotty cleared the bases with a homer to left to make it 3-0.

Piscotty had been struggling at the plate with the few at bats he did get. He went from being an everyday right-fielder when healthy to a platoon-only, facing lefties. Piscotty spoke on his night at the plate and how he can hit righties or lefties:

“I felt like I saw the ball well tonight. It is always a good start when you get off with a homer and was able to have some good at bats later in the game and just saw the ball well tonight…I know there is a little lefties coming but honestly I have been hitting righties since I was four so it really doesn’t matter to me too much. It is what it is.”

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Frankie Montas gave up four straight singles to the heart of the order in the third and the Blue Jays quickly tied the game. Bo Bichette singled up the middle to drive in the first Blue Jays run. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smacked a line drive to right field, but Piscotty made a quick, beautiful throw home to prevent a run from scoring. Teoscar Hernandez followed with the bases loaded and hit a line drive to left to bring in two and tie it 3-3.

A smiling Montas said he was happy to see his former teammate Semien, and said it was weird pitching to him on the opposing side. He spoke about what happened in the third inning:

“I didn’t have a good third inning but I feel like I just put that behind and keep moving forward. Try to keep the team in the game, it was a tight game. Just tried to make good pitches and keep them out of it…I was just mixing my pitches a little more. They were swinging they were aggressive and I was able to spin some a little more and I feel like my fastball command was really good and I was able to even if I go 2-0, I was able to come back and throw strikes.”

Melvin was most impressed with how Montas came back after the three-run third:

“That was the most impressive thing for me today from Frankie. He looked like he had good stuff and then all of a sudden we score three and they come right back and score three, and now you wanna see how he responds. At times he has had a tough time doing something like that, especially against a lineup that is so deep. Everyone can hit home runs in their lineup so I think that was the most impressive thing I saw out of Frankie today.”

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Tony Kemp drew a seven-pitch walk to lead off the fifth, then Ramón Laureano cleared the bases with a bomb 432 feet to left to put the A’s up 5-3. Laureano has now hit home runs in three straight games; he has hit home runs in three straight games before, but Monday night marked the first time he did it three days in a row.

Melvin spoke about how great of a job Kemp has done while Pinder remains on the injured list due to a sprained knee:

“Whether its Tony Kemp, whether it’s Mitch [Moreland], whether it is [Seth Brown] Brownie at times. More Tony and Mitch, it’s important that we get something out of them. Tony seems to find a way to be in the middle of something. He gets some tough assignments against left-handed pitching and he finds a way to get a walk, score a run, do something to contribute.”

Matz (L, 4-2, 4.78 ERA) allowed five runs off seven hits in his five full innings. He struck out six and walked one but gave up two homers and was relieved by Travis Bergen. Bergen gave up a double to Lowrie — giving him back-to-back, three-hit games — who was left stranded along with Piscotty, who had drawn a walk. Bergen was relieved in the seventh with two outs, and Tim Mayza kept the game at 5-3 after the seventh and a scoreless eighth.

Montas (W, 3-2, 5.87 ERA) was relieved after six where he allowed three runs off seven hits. All his runs came in the third inning when he allowed five hits. Montas exited the game with a two-run cushion for Sergio Romo, who threw a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.

Romo has been a giant question mark but his past few outings have been great. Melvin spoke on that:

“It just seems to just take him a while to find his stuff. You can see he is much more confident out there and is getting tougher assignments. His last has it been six or whatever has been really really good. He just got off to a little bit of a slow start like our team did but since then we’ve stayed with him and he’s responded really well. This guy has been through a lot of battles and done a lot of good things so its nice to see him on a day that we’re not going to use Petit that he can come in and pitch the seventh innings, especially as quickly as he did.”

Lou Trivino ran into trouble for the first time this season in the eighth. Guerrero Jr. hit a line drive over Piscotty’s head in right field for a standing double to start the inning, his third hit of the game. Randal Grichuk singled to right to put runners on the corners with one out before a wild pitch to Marcus Semien scored the Blue Jays fourth run to make it 5-4. Trivino escaped the inning after one run and a wild pitch.

Jake Diekman (S, 3) threw a perfect ninth inning to give his team their second-straight win.

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