TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays were having such a hard time on Sunday that they had to turn to an unorthodox choice for a reliever in the ninth inning.
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales made his Major League pitching debut in the final inning of a 9-2 blowout loss to the Oakland Athletics. The Blue Jays used five pitchers in the game before going to Morales. He allowed just one walk in one inning of work.
"I haven't pitched in an organized game since 2002," said Morales through an interpreter. "They needed me for an inning and it happened but hopefully it doesn't happen again because it means we're losing."
Toronto's Joe Biagini (0-3) struggled to pitch deep into the game. He went four-plus innings and allowed four runs, three earned runs, six hits and walked two batters. He lost a career-high eighth consecutive decision.
"It's frustrating for it to turn out that way. Starters are supposed to go deeper," said Biagini. "I obviously always feel like I can stay out there longer. Today I felt that same way but I also don't blame them to make that decision to manage the situation."
Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run homer as the Blue Jays (22-25). Toronto has dropped eight of its past ten games and was swept in a four-game set at home for the first time since May 31-June 3, 2001, by the Boston Red Sox.
Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer as part of a four-run fifth inning for Oakland (25-22) and also drove in the A's ninth run of the game with a sacrifice fly. The Athletics have won six of their last seven games and improved to 20-12 in their previous 32 games.
Oakland starting pitcher Daniel Mengden (4-4) kept the Blue Jays bats silent. He pitched seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits and one walk.
The Athletics opened the scoring in the second inning when Matt Chapman crossed home plate after Stephen Piscotty reached first base on a fielding error charged to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson.
"I got a bad read. I kind of got stuck flat-footed and once I did that, I tried to make a play with my hands and the ball didn't take the particular hop I was looking for," Donaldson said of the ground ball. "I've got to be better, plain and simple."
Oakland added to its lead in the fifth inning when Chad Pinder hit a ground ball to left field for an RBI single to make it 2-0 Athletics. The hit chased Biagini from the game.
Danny Barnes pitched in relief of Biagini. He surrendered an RBI groundout to Dustin Fowler, which made it 3-0 Oakland. Semien was the next batter and he broke the game open with a two-run shot.
The Athletics added four more runs in the sixth inning. Semien recorded a sacrifice fly RBI for a game-high third run driven in.
"We got swept here last year so it feels to good to come out here and get some wins," Chapman said.
Solarte's two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth cut Oakland's lead to seven runs.
The Blue Jays committed four errors, the most they have made in a game since May 18, 2014.
"We're on a bad stretch right now. We're not playing real good baseball in a bunch of different areas," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've struggled but now it's magnified no doubt."
NOTES: Announced attendance was 30,676, ...Athletics designated hitter Khris Davis left the game in the fourth inning with a right groin strain while hitting into a double play. "He didn't feel a pop, which is encouraging, but typically those things aren't one or two days," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. During the game, Oakland claimed right-handed pitcher Carlos Ramirez from the Blue Jays.