TORONTO — A second straight “terrible” start left Ben Sheets feeling like a raw rookie.
The Oakland starter was tagged for nine runs, three homers and eight extra-base hits in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 9-3 victory over the Athletics on Sunday.
“My location was terrible,” said Sheets, who dropped to 1-3. “You can’t throw balls over the middle of the plate in the big leagues. I don’t think I could throw it over the middle of the plate in Little League right now.”
Fred Lewis, Alex Gonzalez and Aaron Hill homered to help Toronto right-hander Shaun Marcum (1-1) win for the first time since 2008.
“It’s good to have him back and it was good to get him the run support and get him his first win,” Hill said.
Hill went 3 for 4 with a walk and the Blue Jays pounded out 10 extra-base hits to win for the seventh time in nine games against the Athletics. Oakland has lost nine of 13 and saw its starting pitchers go 1-5 with an 11.96 ERA on a six-game road trip.
Sheets, who sat out the 2009 season after elbow surgery, gave up eight runs and nine hits in five innings in his previous start, April 27 at Tampa Bay, and was hit even harder in this one. He allowed nine runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings, walked two and struck out two.
“I would say my location hasn’t been this bad since my rookie year,” Sheets said.
The switch to the American League this season has been tough.
“When you come to a new league its kind of like you’re a rookie again,” Sheets said. “There’s no comfort zone.”
Velocity and health aren’t the problem, Sheets said, so he’ll try to work on mechanical issues before his next start.
“My breaking ball is absolutely getting walloped every time,” Sheets said. “I’m going to keep working on that, try to get it breaking like I know it should.”
Marcum, who also missed all of last season after elbow ligament replacement surgery, won for the first time since Sept. 11, 2008, a road win over the Chicago White Sox.
Marcum allowed one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, walked four and struck out six. The crowd of 14,725 gave Marcum a standing ovation when he was replaced by left-hander Rommie Lewis in the seventh, and he tipped his cap as he entered the dugout. He was low-key after the game, claiming to have no special feelings about ending his long wait between wins.
“Maybe later,” Marcum said. “I go grab some sushi later and maybe it will hit me then. Other than that, it’s just a game we won. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Lewis worked 1 2-3 innings and Josh Roenicke pitched the ninth for the Blue Jays.
Toronto jumped on Sheets with a four-run first. Hill and Vernon Wells hit RBI doubles and Gonzalez drilled a two-run shot to left, his eighth home run of the season.
The Blue Jays added two more runs in the second. John Buck doubled and scored on John McDonald’s triple, and Lewis hit a sacrifice fly that made it 4-0.
Oakland loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth but managed just one run on a two-out single by Rajai Davis. Cliff Pennington ended the threat by grounding out.
Toronto chased Sheets by scoring three more runs in the fourth. Lewis hit a two-run shot to right, his first of the year, and Hill followed with a drive to left, his second. It’s the third time this season the Blue Jays have hit back-to-back homers. Sheets struck out Adam Lind but left after Vernon Wells singled.
“They hit the ball hard,” Sheets said. “The outs were hard, everything was hard. I’m not sure why except balls were in the middle of the plate.”
NOTES: Oakland’s Adam Rosales hit a two-run single in the eighth. … Toronto OF Travis Snider was a late scratch with flulike symptoms and was replaced by McDonald, with Jose Bautista moving to right. … Wells made a leaping catch up against the wall in center to retire Eric Chavez in the sixth. … Buck went 3 for 4 with a career high three doubles, all to left. … Gonzalez hit eight home runs in 291 at bats last season.