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Blue Jays pay a visit to A's

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of division leaders moving in opposite directions kick off a four-game series on Thursday night as the Toronto Blue Jays visit the Oakland Athletics.

Toronto dropped three in a row and four of five before sweeping a quick two- game set with the Milwaukee Brewers to cap a nine-game homestand at 5-4. The Blue Jays next head to Oakland to play the first of 10 in a row on the road leading into the All-Star break.

After missing seven straight starts due to a strained left hamstring, Jose Bautista homered in both games of the set versus Milwaukee, while Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Francisco also went deep in Wednesday's 7-4 win. Encarnacion's MLB high-tying 26th homer of the campaign was a three-run, walk- off shot.

"We're going to have a happy flight," Encarnacion said.

Toronto has a one-game lead over Baltimore for first place in the AL East, while Oakland's advantage over the Los Angeles Angels for the top spot in the AL West is at 3 1/2 games.

The Athletics were swept in three games by the Detroit Tigers, losing Wednesday's finale 9-3, as they wrapped an eight-game swing with a 4-4 mark.

Brandon Moss went 4-for-4 in yesterday's setback, hitting his 19th homer of the campaign and falling a triple shy of the cycle. Coco Crisp also went deep, but starter Jesse Chavez yielded five runs over five-plus innings.

"Not only is it frustrating, but I've been down that path before," Chavez said of his outing. "I think it's annoying when you give up two-out hits and you're one out away from a clean inning and getting your lineup back in the dugout."

Oakland aims to rebound tonight behind Sonny Gray, who is coming off a no- decision at Miami on Saturday.

Gray allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings of work for his shortest outing of the year. It also marked the second time in his past four starts that he yielded five runs in an outing.

The 24-year-old righty is 7-3 with a 3.20 ERA on the year and will face the Blue Jays for the second time in his career. Gray lost to them on Aug. 10 of last year, charged with four runs -- two earned -- on four hits and three walks over six frames.

The Blue Jays counter with the struggling R.A. Dickey, who has lost three starts in a row and is without a victory since June 4.

Dickey was hammered for five runs over six innings of a 5-4 setback to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. Four of the five hits he gave up were homers, though he did fan nine to just one walk.

The 39-year-old right-hander is 6-7 with a 4.24 ERA on the year.

Dickey is 2-4 lifetime versus the A's with a 4.60 ERA in 15 meetings with 11 starts. That includes a victory on May 24, when he gave up two runs over 8 1/3 frames of a 5-2 home victory.

Toronto swept that three-game series and won two of three in Oakland a season ago.

07/03 10:50:19 ET