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Blue Jays try to sweep A's

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are hoping a dramatic comeback win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night will lead to something better in a disappointing season.

"It sparks you, man," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've actually played some pretty good baseball lately. Maybe it's the beginning of a nice streak. We'll see. Strange things happen in this game."

Toronto will try for the sweep of the four-game series Thursday at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-5, 2.8 ERA) against Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea (8-5, 3.82).

The game Wednesday took a dramatic turn in the bottom of the ninth when Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer to tie it at 2 and Kendrys Morales followed with the game-ending solo shot.

The sudden turn of events means the Athletics (44-56) will be trying to avoid being swept instead of going for a split.

The Blue Jays (46-54) need more drama to thrust themselves back into the postseason picture.

"We've still got two months," Gibbons said. "You've just got to approach it, hey, win that day and two months from now see where we're at and live with it.

"Every team, especially in the wild card is vulnerable one way or the other. You never give up. After 162 games, if you're good enough, you get in; if you're not, you don't. It's pretty simple."

It was the second time in franchise history that the Blue Jays had won a game with back-to-back home runs. Cliff Johnson homered to tie the game and pinch hitter Buck Martinez followed with the game-ending homer off Detroit's Guillermo Hernandez on June 14, 1986. The Blue Jays won 6-5.

"Everything is possible. We're not that far from the wild-card position," Morales said. "If we can put a good winning streak together and we keep playing well, anything can happen."

The Athletics have lost seven of their past nine games overall and 11 of their past 12 at Rogers Centre.

"I think any time you lose, it's tough," A's right fielder Matt Joyce said. "This has not been a great season for us. We've got a lot of things to figure out. There are a lot of questions to answer, a lot of problems to figure out. Right now, we've still got over two months left in the season and we've got to find a way to make some adjustments and figure something out.

"The guys in here, they work hard. We've got a lot of young guys. There's been a lot of mistakes along the way that have been made that kind of shot ourselves in the foot. And we just have to play kind of cleaner baseball and make some adjustments. ... We have to get really, really hot and do some things we haven't done all year."

Stroman has a 0.63 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .196 over his past two starts, July 17-22, but has no decisions to show for it.

He will be trying for his first win since July 8.

The Blue Jays are 1-1 in Stroman's past two starts as he has allowed 10 hits in 14 1/3 innings.

He is 0-0 with a 4.63 ERA in two career starts against Oakland.

Manaea is 7-2 with a 3.17 ERA over his past 12 starts. He was 1/3 with a 5.52 ERA in his first three starts.

He is 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts against AL East teams this season and is 4-5 with a 4.08 ERA against all other teams.

He is coming off a no-decision Saturday in Oakland's 6-5 loss to the New York Mets; he gave up 10 hits, one walk and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. He was the winning pitcher against the Blue Jays on June 5 at Oakland, a 5-3 A's victory, when he allowed four hits, three walks and two runs while striking out seven in six innings.

In two career outings (one start) against Toronto, he is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA.

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