OAKLAND, Calif. -- Manager Ken Macha studied a printout of Jason Kendall's career hitting stats this spring and quickly realized he'd be getting a quality at-bat out of his new catcher anywhere in the order.
Kendall, batting second again after two days in the No. 3 hole, hit a tiebreaking single to left in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
"I don't care where I hit," said Kendall, who also had an RBI double in the sixth. "I'm not going to change my approach. Hitting's hard enough as it is. ... I hit it and hope it falls in somewhere. As a team we've been scuffling a little bit, but we're coming around."
Rookie Nick Swisher scored the go-ahead run after leading off the inning with a single against Jason Frasor (1-1) to go along with his sixth-inning solo home run.
Kiko Calero (1-0) pitched the eighth for the win as the A's avoided being swept by the Blue Jays in Oakland for the first time since Aug. 29-31, 1993.
Swisher started the eighth with a single to right, then advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Mark Ellis. Frasor intentionally walked Mark Kotsay to bring up Kendall, whose liner to left got down despite Reed Johnson's diving attempt at a catch.
The A's scored again when pitcher Scott Schoeneweis threw home trying to get Kotsay and catcher Gregg Zaun lost track of the ball and dropped it for an error. Keith Ginter added a two-run single for Oakland.
Alex Rios drove in a run in the ninth against A's closer Octavio Dotel with a groundout.
Johnson hit a monstrous homer onto an elevated camera platform in center, but the Blue Jays couldn't muster much other offense against rookie A's starter Joe Blanton.
"When you win the first two, you think sweep," Zaun said. "A couple of things broke down for us late in the game. We're playing good ball, getting good starting pitching, timely hitting and playing good defense. We just need to continue to do that."
Toronto (6-3), which won its first three series to start the year for the first time since beginning the 2001 season by taking six consecutive series, began the day with baseball's best record and still is one of only four teams with six wins. The Blue Jays are in first place in the AL East.
David Bush pitched seven strong innings for the Blue Jays but didn't get a decision. After Scott Hatteberg's single leading off the second, Bush retired 11 batters in a row before surrendering the homer to Swisher to start the sixth.
The A's had left 68 men on base -- tied with Pittsburgh for second most in the majors -- going into Wednesday's games, struggling to score runs at key times. So this was a step in the right direction.
Kendall is still adjusting to changing leagues and learning new pitchers after spending nine losing seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"A couple big hits by our No. 2 guy tonight," Macha said. "He hits .300 leadoff, he hits .300 batting second, he hits .300 batting third. He does not over swing and he's going to put the ball in play."
No one had more than one hit for Toronto, which begins a tough four-game series at Texas on Thursday with ace Roy Halladay on the mound.
Blanton, a rookie right-hander who won 11 games at Triple-A Sacramento last season, retired 15 of 17 before giving up Johnson's shot leading off the sixth. Blanton's eyes grew big as he turned and watched the ball sail out just to the left of the 400-feet sign, the only run he allowed and one of three hits.
He had a no-decision in his first major-league start last Friday at Tampa Bay and is still looking for his first victory at this level.
"I felt a little better than last time," Blanton said. "I worked on my mechanics and the ball was coming out of my hand a little better."
Blanton pitched six sharp innings then gave way to fellow rookie Huston Street, who the A's wanted to see in more difficult situations. The right-hander, a star closer for Texas who played only one season in the minors, gave up a double to Shea Hillenbrand to start the seventh, then a tying RBI single to Rios two batters later.
Both starters had thrown 62 pitches through five with 43 strikes. ... Toronto was 3-6 against the A's last year. ... Blue Jays' 3B Corey Koskie, whose neck stiffened up on a fourth-inning single in Tuesday's game, was held out as a precaution and should be ready to play Thursday at Texas. Hillenbrand started at third and helped turn a 5-4-3 double play in the second. "I tweaked it," Koskie said. "It's better today." ... Halladay headed to Arlington early Wednesday in preparation for his start.