Harden stars on Lawrie's night

Athletics starter Rich Harden pitches against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto Ont.,...

Athletics starter Rich Harden pitches against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto Ont., Aug. 9, 2011. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

TORONTO - They came to see the B.C. boyo put on a show.

Did he ever.

Worth the price of admission.

His best outing ever on his home and native land.

Oh yes and Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C. was at the Rogers Centre too.

Right-hander Rich Harden of Victoria, B.C. who was the dominant factor.

Harden dominated Toronto Blue Jays hitters, including Lawrie, as he pitched seven impressive innings for the Oakland A's in a 4-1 win over the Jays in a tidy two hours and 31 minutes before a crowd of 20,521 fans.

Harden came into his start 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in eight career starts against the Jays (a 13.50 ERA in Toronto). He has now beaten every American League team but Baltimore.

"I was aware of my past performances here," Harden told reporters.

Harden opened the seventh by walking Edwin Encarnacion, who had homered leading off the second, a fence scraper to left, and then allowed a single to Colby Rasmus setting up a first and third situation.

None out, runners on the corners and both bullpen mounds in action.

"That was basically the only opportunity we had all game," Jays manager John Farrell told reporters. "That's a credit to how well Harden pitched." Harden popped up Aaron Hill drawing boos -- they were not for Harden.

He then struck out J.P. Arencibia and as it was written for West Coast viewers up stepped Lawrie, tying run on first.

Harden struck out Lawrie with a 3-2 changeup.

"I'd watched video of him," Lawrie said, "but he threw me one change that cut, one like a slider, one that dropped and another like a split fingered, or maybe it was a split."

Showing an ounce of emotion, Harden bounced off the mound after getting out of the jam.

"It felt like I'd given up a couple," Harden said.

The Victoria Mariners-Langley Blaze rivalries amongst British Columbia Premier League alumni never die.

Harden was a 17th round draft choice in 2000 after playing for the Mariners while Lawrie is the former Blaze first rounder, eight years younger than Harden.

It's a little over three hours from McLeod Athletic Park in Langley to Victoria by road and ferry.

Lawrie and Harden were separated by 60 feet six inches.

The nine-year veteran won.

Web gems

They say hitting is contagious. How 'bout fielding? Scott Sizemore hit a liner bound for the left field when Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar showed great vertical leaping ability by snagging it. He resembled a NBA forward out jumping everyone and coming down with the rebound. John McDonald would have had it too -- with a step ladder ... The next hitter, Jamile Weeks, lined a Brett Cecil pitch down the third base line. Lawrie drove, back-handed the ball and bounced a low throw across the diamond. Jays first baseman Adam Lind made like Gumbee with a Go-Go Gadget arm to stretch and field the throw, barely keeping his left foot on the bag for the out.

On the mound

Cecil was in control putting up five zeros until a lead-off single to shortstop Cliff Pennington. One out later, left fielder Josh Willingham hit his team-high 18th homer to left, giving the A's a 2-1 lead. Willingham timed an 0-1 changeup to connect on a line drive homer to left. He saw a change on the first pitch as well ... Kurt Suzuki led off the seventh with his 10th homer, hitting a 2-2 slider to left. Cecil had been ahead in the count 0-2 before drawing even ... A╣s general manager Billy Beane predicted years ago, before the numerous arm injuries, that Harden would win a Cy Young award. Harden was impressive on this night: allowing four singles and the Encarnacion bomb. He retired eight straight through the sixth including whiffing Eric Thames, home run leader Jose Bautista and Adam Lind.

In game

Left fielder Eric Thames came up throwing to third on Jamile Weeks' ball into the corner in the third inning with zero chance of getting Sizemore. Weeks strolled into second without a throw ... Lawrie received a standing ovation when he came up in the bottom of the second. Said Harden, "I hope he does well, it's definitely exciting to see him here" ... Jays were hitless in six at-bats with men in scoring position ... Escobar led off the game with a line single. Said Farrell, "the way we squared balls up in the first I thought we'd be able to score some runs, but he made adjustments ... got his changeup over" ... Lawrie was hitless in three at-bats a pair of strikeouts and a fly ball to centre. "He's been on the front page of every Toronto paper, while he was hitless in the box score, I thought he made a tremendous adjustment between his first at-bat and his at-bat in the seventh." Lawrie was whiffed on three pitches first time up. He battled Harden in a six pitch at-bat before missing a 3-2 changeup ... The Jays drew 20,521 fans Tuesday night. They averaged 16,840 in their previous three Tuesday night home dates against the Baltimore Orioles, the Seattle Mariners and the Pittsburgh Pirates.


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