OAKLAND, Calif. — Carlos Pérez broke out of a lengthy batting slump with a two-run homer off Hyun Jin Ryu in the fourth inning and the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, Wednesday.
It was a milestone day for Ryu. The 36-year-old left-hander threw 77 pitches in his seventh start after beginning the season in the minors. That’s one more start than Ryu had in 2022, when his season was cut short in June due to Tommy John surgery.
“He’s been pitching a long time for a reason,” said Oakland’s Kevin Smith, who had an infield single in two at-bats against Ryu. “He’s going to get you out, he’s going to throw his good pitches. He has some funky stuff, just the way that his change-up moves. He’s not going to overpower you, but he’s going to throw it where he wants. If he’s spotting up, it’s going to be a hard day.”
Pérez’s sixth home run of the season ended a 5-for-27 skid and accounted for the only A’s runs scored off Ryu (3-2), who allowed five hits and had five strikeouts with one walk. The loss was his first since Aug. 1, when he made his season debut.
Smith, called up from the minors before the game, added a three-run homer off Trevor Richards for the A’s. Oakland had lost two straight to the Blue Jays after sweeping Shohei Ohtani and the Angels to begin its homestand.
“It feels great,” said Smith, who is in his third stint with the A’s big league club this season. “Especially when you come up, you want to try to make as early of a contribution that you can. Obviously, I haven’t as well as I’ve wanted to when I’m up here. You have to make some contributions or you’re going to find yourself back down. "
Davis Schneider homered for Toronto. The Blue Jays started the day with a half-game lead over the Rangers for the third AL wild-card spot.
“We don’t really have too many games left,” Ryu said through a translator. “I’m not speaking just for myself. Every game’s going to be very important for us moving on, and we need more wins than ever.”
A’s starter JP Sears (4-11) pitched five uneven innings and earned his first win since July 28. Sears, who leads the majors in hit batters, worked around four walks and allowed four hits and one run.
“I don’t know if he had his best stuff today, but that’s the competitor that we talked about,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Really not his best command probably, but really managed the game and walked off the mound with a 2-1 lead. That’s all you can ask, really.”