OAKLAND, Calif. -- Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays have the best record in baseball. They're in first place in the AL East and have won all three of their series so far.
And this group of big hitters is determined to keep it up, even if everybody else believes it's only a matter of time before they'll fall.
Eric Hinske hit a three-run homer to extend his early-season tear and Gregg Zaun added a solo shot in Toronto's fourth straight win, 5-2 over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
"We're confident," said Hinske, who has an AL-leading 13 RBI and is batting .407. "We've got a lot of guys who can play the game and we play the game hard. We have fun in the clubhouse and on the field. It's fun to come here every day."
Josh Towers (1-0) shut down the A's again with 6 2/3 efficient innings, improving to 5-1 lifetime in the Coliseum and 5-2 in eight career appearances, seven starts, against Oakland. He beat the A's twice last year.
He can't explain his success in the Coliseum.
"I don't know, truthfully," he said. "I like pitching here. It's a pitchers-friendly ballpark. When my family comes to town there's a little extra. I just like to pitch and it happens to be a place I pitch well."
Towers grew up in Port Hueneme, Calif., a six-hour drive from the Bay Area. He had nine people in the stands supporting him.
The right-hander, who won a career-best nine games in 2004 but lost five straight decisions in his last six starts, retired 14 of his final 16 batters after a walk to Charles Thomas in the third. Towers allowed two earned runs on six hits, struck out six and walked one.
"You want to get to him. You think you should get to him, and you can't," Oakland's Scott Hatteberg said. "It's like running in sand."
The surprising Blue Jays have won their first three series of the season for the first time since taking six straight series in 2001. They started their nine-game road trip with a 10-3 win Monday night to spoil the A's home opener.
They are getting big hits from throughout their talented lineup. Shea Hillenbrand had two hits and Zaun drew two walks in the eighth hole before hitting his second homer of the year in the ninth.
Miguel Batista pitched the ninth for his third save.
A's starter Dan Haren (0-1) didn't give up a hit until Corey Koskie's two-out single in the fourth. Hillenbrand followed with a single, then Hinske hit his third homer. He sent a 3-2 fastball high over the wall in center, easily clearing the outstretched glove of Mark Kotsay.
"Our pitching has been good, we're playing good defense and we've gotten clutch hitting," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "When you do that, you're going to win your share of games."
The right-handed Haren retired the first six batters he faced before Alex Rios reached on Marco Scutaro's throwing error leading off the third. Scutaro, filling in at shortstop while reigning AL rookie of the year Bobby Crosby nurses fractured ribs, made a low throw to first base that Hatteberg couldn't handle.
Rios stole second, went to third on Zaun's groundout, then scored the unearned run on an RBI grounder by Russ Adams.
Haren gave up three earned runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out three and walked three. Rookie Nick Swisher hit a two-run double in the second to give the A's the lead but it didn't last. He also made a nice running catch in the warning track dirt on Koskie's flyball.
At 3-5, the A's are under .500 through eight games for the first time since beginning 2-10 in 2001.
Haren got a no-decision last Thursday at Baltimore despite allowing one earned run on three hits in six sharp innings in the team's 5-1 win. Acquired in the December trade that sent Mark Mulder to St. Louis, he needed only 13 pitches to get through the first two innings Tuesday.
"They are an aggressive team, tough to strike out," Haren said. "Unfortunately, Hinske took advantage of one mistake I made. Hinske is hot right now."
Kotsay had two hits but was the only A's player with a multihit game. He has hit safely in seven of eight games.
Koskie left in the seventh with a stiff neck. It wasn't considered serious. ... Both starters threw 100 pitches. ... A's C Jason Kendall batted third in the order for the second straight game and LF Thomas hit second, an experiment by A's manager Ken Macha. ... Blue Jays hitting coach Mike Barnett rejoined the team two weeks after having retinal surgery on his left eye. He had to stay in Florida after the operation late in spring training because he wasn't allowed to fly. ... The announced attendance was a generous 10,106, after the A's drew a sellout crowd of 44,815 a night earlier.
|Players of the Game|
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|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Frank Catalanotto, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.316|
|Reed Johnson, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.222|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.182|
|Corey Koskie, 3B||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.222|
|Frank Menechino, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.167|
|Shea Hillenbrand, DH||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.355|
|Eric Hinske, 1B||3||1||1||3||1||1||0||.407|
|Alex Rios, RF||4||1||0||0||0||1||2||.333|
|Gregg Zaun, C||2||1||1||1||2||0||1||.318|
|Russ Adams, SS||4||0||0||1||0||0||1||.250|
|HR - Eric Hinske (3, Haren), Gregg Zaun (2, Duchscherer)|
|RBI - Eric Hinske 3 (13), Gregg Zaun (10), Russ Adams (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Eric Hinske 3 (9), Gregg Zaun (3)|
|SB - Alex Rios (1, 2nd base off Haren/Kendall)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Josh Towers (W,1-0)||6.2||6||2||2||1||6||0||2.13|
|Brandon League (H,1)||0.2||1||0||0||0||0||0||9.82|
|Scott Schoeneweis (H,4)||0.2||0||0||0||1||1||0||12.00|
|Miguel Batista (S,3)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||3.86|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Towers 100-70, Brandon League 8-5, Scott Schoeneweis 14-6, Miguel Batista 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Towers 7-7, Scott Schoeneweis 1-0, Miguel Batista 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Josh Towers 27, Brandon League 3, Scott Schoeneweis 3, Miguel Batista 4|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||5||0||2||0||0||0||1||.382|
|Charles Thomas, LF||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.000|
|Jason Kendall, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.219|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.214|
|Erubiel Durazo, DH||3||1||1||0||1||0||3||.185|
|Scott Hatteberg, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||1||2||.321|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.353|
|Nick Swisher, RF||4||0||1||2||0||2||1||.200|
|Marco Scutaro, SS||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.261|
|a- Keith Ginter, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.125|
|a-struck out for Scutaro in the 9th|
|2B - Nick Swisher (1, Towers)|
|RBI - Nick Swisher 2 (6)|
|2-OUT RBI - Nick Swisher 2 (4)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Ellis-Scutaro-Hatteberg|
|E - Marco Scutaro (2, Wild throw)|
|Dan Haren (L,0-1)||7||5||4||3||3||3||1||2.77|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dan Haren 100-61, Justin Duchscherer 25-16|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dan Haren 11-7, Justin Duchscherer 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Dan Haren 29, Justin Duchscherer 7|
|Attendance - 10106|
|Game Time - 2:21|
|Temperature - 57|
|Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Tim Welke, Second Base - Brian O'Nora, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom|