Blue Jays take AL East lead with 10th straight win

Chris Colabello drove in four RBIs and Justin Smoak drove in three RBIs to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to the victory over the Oakland Athletics.

TORONTO — Chris Colabello knew from the beginning that this Toronto Blue Jays team was a special one.

Now he’s just glad to be helping them out regularly.

Colabello was 2 for 4 with a home run and four RBIs on Wednesday to help lift the Blue Jays into first place in the American League East with a 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The game — Toronto’s 10th straight win — was Colabello’s 72nd of the season with the big league club after starting the year at triple-A Buffalo.

"I remember being so happy that first week of (spring training), even after they sent me down," Colabello said. "I went in there and told (general manager) Alex (Anthopoulos) and (manager John Gibbons): ‘I commend you guys on the group you’ve put together because it’s special.’

"I told them I look forward to being a part of it and I’m thankful to be a part of it."

Colabello, who’s been getting more playing time with slugger Edwin Encarnacion nursing a sore left finger, is on a nine-game hitting streak and batting .328 with 11 home runs on the year.

"The more you’re in there the more comfortable you start getting," Colabello said of his hot streak. "You start making adjustments and things like that, slowing things down."

Justin Smoak also hit a three-run homer, Josh Donaldson had two hits and drove in a pair and Russell Martin had an RBI for Toronto (63-52), which scored seven runs in the second inning and leaped into a half-game lead over New York in the division with the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to Cleveland.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-10) fought off the wind to fan four batters and scatter three runs, six hits and two walks over six innings.

While impressed with the team’s performance over the last two weeks, the 40-year-old downplayed the significance of the their second 10-game winning streak of the year.

"I don’t know if I would say I’m amazed," Dickey said. "You know the potential of the individual guys in here, it’s collectively what’s so fun to be a part of. When you’ve got Chris Colabello doing what he’s doing and you’ve got great defence … I feel like we’re capable of consistently winning ball games."

Dickey also downplayed the significance of snagging first place in the division with seven weeks still left in the season.

"You can’t put the cart before the horse," he said. "We want people to get excited about it, we want people to really enjoy what’s happening because it’s a long time coming for this city and this team and this country, but we can’t afford to do that.

"We’ve got to keep things in perspective. We’ve got 10 more games against the Yankees, we’ve got games against the Orioles, people trying to catch us, so we’re going to have to consistently be good."

Bo Schultz and Liam Hendriks pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings and Aaron Loup — in his first appearance since July 31 — worked around a lead-off single in the ninth to close it out.

Former Blue Jay Danny Valencia hit a solo shot for the A’s (51-64) and Mark Canha and Eric Sogard drove in a run apiece.

Aaron Brooks (1-1) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs and six hits while walking two and striking out two.

"A lot of balls in the middle of the plate," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of his starter’s outing. "You’ve got a pretty hot hitting team and when you miss in the middle of the plate, you end up paying."

Colabello got the Blue Jays on the board in the bottom of the first inning with his three-run blast to left field, but the A’s scored two in the top of the second on Valencia’s solo homer and Sogard’s RBI ground out.

Then Toronto’s potent offence went to work in the bottom of the frame.

Donaldson’s bases-loaded single scored two to restore the three-run cushion, Colabello singled home another run to end Brooks’ outing, and Martin’s RBI base hit off former Blue Jay Felix Doubront scored Jose Bautista for a 7-2 lead.

Smoak added to the wreckage with a three-run home run to the delight of the 44,597 in attendance.

Canha hit an RBI double off Dickey in the fourth to cut the A’s deficit to 10-3.

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