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TOR@OAK: Colon fans three over eight scoreless frames

OAKLAND -- Father knows best.

It was no surprise, then, that all it took for Josh Reddick to break out of a career-long hitless slump was a dinner date with his dad, Kenny.

That was Wednesday night. Fast forward to Thursday, when Reddick snapped an 0-for-21 streak with a first-inning single, which provided only more fuel in the outfielder's bat for his second trip to the plate, which amounted to a two-run homer in a three-run inning against Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez.

"That's all it takes sometimes, is a hit," manager Bob Melvin said. "Next time up he gets a homer. I know, for the psyche, that's big for him, because he hasn't been really been through a prolonged struggle this year at all. You could just see his spirits lift after he got the hit, and then he put the best swing he's had in a while on the home run."

That dose of power and a superb pitching performance from Bartolo Colon combined for a familiar winning formula that led the A's to the upper echelon of the standings in July. After straying from that blueprint with losses in three of their past four games, the A's shut down Toronto by way of a 4-1 decision.

Kenny was there for the whole thing.

"Yesterday I obviously got more frustrated as the day went on, then went home last night, had a long talk with Dad, and it worked out," Reddick said. "I'm glad he's here and was able to help out.

"He said the obvious -- trying too hard, jumping at the ball. He told me to be myself. His favorite line with me and my mother is, 'Be the kid in the backyard.'"

Colon, though 39, has pitched to the tune of that notion his entire career, and the veteran's presence on an otherwise youthful roster stands to pay dividends for a contending A's team down the stretch.

The righty is riding a 16 1/3-inning scoreless streak dating to July 22, after tossing up eight zeros against the Blue Jays, who managed seven hits while fanning three times with just one walk off the veteran. Toronto's lone run came in the ninth off lefty Sean Doolittle.

"He's had an effect on everybody from the day he got to Spring Training -- how loose he is, how much fun he has pitching," Melvin said of Colon. "You see a lot of pitchers get worked up on game day and nervous, and he's the same every day, and just loves to pitch.

"I think at this point in time in his career, he's kind of smelling the roses a little bit and enjoying the ride, where I think early in your career you're grinding so hard. He's having as much fun as he's ever had in his career, and I think that rubs off on our younger guys and has a big effect on them."

"He's given us a bunch of quality starts," Reddick said. "You know he's going to throw strikes and put the ball in play. You're never bored or waiting around for him with him on the mound."

Reddick's long ball, his 23rd of the year, gave the A's 114 on the season, matching the club's total from all of 2011.

"To go up there the second at-bat and do that is just a great pick-me-up for not only me but for Bartolo," he said. "He's been great all year, and we haven't gotten him the run support he deserves."

It also followed Seth Smith's RBI base hit, as the A's exited the inning with a three-run lead they would later extend to four in the seventh, when Brandon Inge notched a bases-loaded single off lefty reliever J.A. Happ, bringing in a run and extending his hitting streak to 12 games.

The run was scored by Chris Carter, who led off the frame with a walk after entering for Smith, who handed over designated-hitter duties after exiting the game with a strained left hamstring.

The A's weren't caught up in worrying about an injury they don't know the extent of, though. They were all about celebrating the good that came out of their 14th win since the All-Star break, which propelled them back into sole possession of second place -- they're 4 1/2 back of division-leading Texas in the American League West.

Nevermind the fact their pitcher's velocity appeared to be down by a few notches.

"I don't know if our gun was off today, but you were seeing a lot of 86 and 87s, which you don't normally see from Bartolo," Melvin said. "But he finds a way. He makes you make the adjustment, throws a bunch of fastballs to both sides of the plate. Gets it done."

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