OAKLAND – Billy Koch needed just 12 pitches to redeem himself after a shaky outing.
Koch pitched a perfect ninth inning to reach 30 saves for the fourth straight season as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Wednesday.
Eric Chavez hit a three-run homer, and Jermaine Dye also drove in a run for the A’s, who have won two straight after losing their last five to the Blue Jays. The A’s have won 10 of 15 overall.
Shannon Stewart homered for the Blue Jays, who have lost six of eight.
Koch, whom the A’s acquired from Toronto during the offseason, walked the first two batters he faced and allowed a run on Tuesday before nailing down his 29th save.
“Any 1-2-3 outing feels great,” Koch said. “Pitching effectively, that’s the biggest thing. It was great to do that and not have Art (A’s manager Howe) have to pull his hair out. I never set a number on how many saves I want to get because that feels like a limitation. I just want to do my job.”
Said Howe: “That was vintage Billy Koch. He went right after them.”
Tim Hudson (9-9) won his second straight decision and evened his record for the first time since he was 3-3 on May 4. He gave up two runs – one earned – and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings.
“Hudson’s movement today was outstanding,” Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said. “You have to be patient against a pitcher like that and try to take him deep in the count. He kept his pitches down and got the double plays when he needed.”
While Hudson has a .690 career winning percentage in the major leagues, he hadn’t won consecutive decisions since June 30 and July 12.
“It seems like, still, when I make mistakes they hit them,” Hudson said. “It also seems like I’m not making as many mistakes and when I got into those situations, I was able to get the groundballs.”
Pete Walker (5-3) allowed four runs, four hits and four walks in six innings but didn’t give up a hit after Miguel Tejada’s single in the third. Walker retired 12 of his final 14 batters.
“I just keep throwing too many pitches,” Walker said. “When I find my stuff it’s always too late. Chavez won the game for them in the first inning.”
Chavez had a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 5-4 win Tuesday, then hit his 26th homer of the season in the first inning following Scott Hatteberg’s single and Tejada’s walk.
“You just have to adjust to what the pitcher is doing,” Chavez said. “It just feels comfortable right now knowing I can take the pitch the other way.”
Dye’s groundout scored Hatteberg in the third for a 4-0 lead.
Stewart homered leading off the sixth, and Josh Phelps had an RBI grounder later in the inning.
Terrence Long saved a run with a diving catch on Tom Wilson’s soft liner to short left-center in the seventh inning. DeWayne Wise, who had doubled and gone to third on a groundout, said he wasn’t sure if he left early and went back to the base.
Notes: Toronto SS Chris Woodward missed his second straight game after sustaining a bone bruise when he was hit by a pitch Monday. ... Dye stole his first base of the season. He had nine steals last year with the A’s and Royals. ... Blue Jays OF Jose Cruz Jr. missed the series because of a sprained left ankle, and will be reevaluated on Thursday. ... A’s LHP Ted Lilly, on the DL with an inflamed left shoulder, began throwing lightly Monday in preparation for a September return. ... Hudson is 6-1 with a 2.64 ERA in nine career starts against the Blue Jays. ... Toronto 3B Eric Hinske is four doubles shy of the team rookie record of 31 set by Shawn Green in 1995.