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OAK@TOR: Encarnacion hits his 12th homer of May

TORONTO -- Looking at their team statistics for the last month, it's not difficult to determine the Blue Jays' greatest strengths.

The team is known for its strong offensive output and dangerous batting order. They're leading most American League offensive categories for May, topping the charts in home runs (38), runs (124), slugging percentage (.479) and OPS (.811).

But in Sunday's series finale, it was the unheralded success of their starting pitching, their bullpen and their baserunning that propelled the Blue Jays to a 3-1 victory and a series sweep of the A's in front of a sellout crowd of 45,277 at Rogers Centre. It marked their second consecutive series sweep, and riding a six-game winning streak, Toronto is now the hottest team in baseball.

"Sometimes you have to find ways to score runs, not only hitting the long ball," said Jose Reyes, who stole three bases Sunday for the first time since 2008. "We're just going to go at it one day at a time, and continue to play the way we play."

It's not that the Blue Jays didn't hit home runs -- they did. Edwin Encarnacion continued to be Mr. May and sent his 14th homer (12th of the month) into the second deck in left field to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning.

But contributions came from throughout the team. Reyes flew around the bases like a bullet train. The ever-dependable Casey Janssen converted his seventh consecutive save opportunity and still hasn't allowed a run. And J.A. Happ -- who started the season on the disabled list and pitched out of the bullpen until Brandon Morrow went down with an injury -- improved to 4-1 as he pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out seven Oakland hitters.

While they're quick to caution that it's still early in the season, the Blue Jays are doing a lot right lately.

"It's great. This is a good team we just beat three games," Happ said. "They do a lot of things right and they are in first place for a reason. We battled all three games and tried to stay on them. We did some good things right ourselves. It's been fun."

Encarnacion's solo shot tied a club record for most home runs in May, set by fellow slugger Jose Bautista.

It remained a 1-0 game until the fifth inning, which brought with it some excitement and a little bit of drama.

The speedy Reyes continued to strut his stuff on the basepaths as he legged out an infield single to put two runners on with nobody out.

Melky Cabrera walked, marking the end of the day for A's starter Drew Pomeranz, and the bases were loaded for the always dangerous Bautista. With reliever Jim Johnson in the game, Bautista singled to left field on the first pitch and brought around Kevin Pillar to score for a 2-0 Toronto lead. Reyes attempted to follow, but he was thrown out by Yoenis Cespedes on a play at the plate.

Pomeranz pitched four innings and allowed five hits, two earned runs and four walks.

"Obviously they've been swinging it well," the 25-year-old lefty said. "I think I maybe tried to locate a little too much instead of going right at guys, and I ended up walking too many people and being in bad counts a lot. I wasn't attacking guys like I should've, just missing a little bit."

After a defensive miscue allowed Encarnacion's seemingly routine fly ball to fall in center field, Cabrera advanced to third, but Bautista was thrown out on the force play at second.

The call prompted a manager's challenge from John Gibbons, and after it was declared that the play would stand, the Blue Jays manager paid home-plate umpire Mark Carlson a visit. After a brief exchange, Gibbons was tossed from the game for the first time this season.

Josh Donaldson had a solo shot in the eighth for the A's off Toronto reliever Dustin McGowan to narrow the deficit to two runs, but that was as close as it got. Comments