- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Jeff Samardzija arrived at the ballpark nearly five hours before making his first start with his new ballclub.

The right-hander left having secured a four-game sweep for Oakland with a performance that showed exactly why the Athletics were so eager to get him in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.

Samardzija pitched seven strong innings to win his Oakland debut and the A’s beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 on Sunday.

“First impressions are always important,” said Samardzija after lowering his overall ERA to 2.74.

“Like I said yesterday, they didn’t need me here. They were doing just fine without me. I don’t want to come in and change anything and change the atmosphere. I just want to come in and add and do my part,” he said.

He did just that, giving up four hits and one run with five strikeouts and one walk while earning his first win since June 7.

With the Cubs, Samardzija was 2-7 despite a 2.83 ERA. He was voted to the NL All-Star team but won’t pitch and will spend the game in the AL dugout.

“He was excited as you could be,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It was great to get him off to a good start like that. Terrific performance.”

Samardzija, acquired a day earlier, received several standing ovations. He was cheered during pregame warmups and again after striking out the side in the seventh.

The veteran pitcher was equally excited after receiving some early run support, something that was scarce in Chicago. The Cubs scored two runs or fewer in 11 of his 17 starts in the NL this season.

Oakland had no such issue.

Jed Lowrie had two hits and scored twice, and leadoff hitter John Jaso added a pair of hits and an RBI for the A’s, who won their fourth straight after getting swept in three games at Detroit.

Stephen Vogt singled and tripled to help the A’s complete their first series sweep of the Blue Jays since taking a three-game series in 2000. Oakland hadn’t swept a four-game series from Toronto since May 22-24, 1981.

“It was beautiful, man, that was awesome,” Samardzija said. “Just getting one early run as a pitcher is the best thing ever. You can go out and pound the zone and understand if a guy gets on base so be it. And the way (the A’s) take at-bats is outstanding.”

Nate Freiman and Craig Gentry also drove in runs for the A’s.

Story Continues →