TORONTO " Ricky Romero got some heady praise after shutting down the Oakland Athletics.
Romero had a career-high six strikeouts in seven sharp innings to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 1-0 victory Sunday. The left-hander allowed four hits and lowered his ERA to 1.71, prompting Oakland slugger Jack Cust to compare him to New York Mets ace Johan Santana.
"He's got a bright future," Cust said. "He reminds me of Santana a little bit, his body and his mannerisms, the way he throws. Santana's got those broad shoulders like he's got. He's similar, he's got a similar arm slot, similar delivery. He's going to be good."
Cust struck out twice in three at-bats against Romero (2-0) and finished 0-for-4, failing to reach safely for the first time in 40 games dating to last season.
Romero was drafted sixth overall in 2005 but didn't reach the major leagues until this season, winning a spot in Toronto's rotation after a strong finish to spring training.
"Deep, deep inside me I knew what I could do this whole time," Romero said. "This ain't no surprise to me. I know there's going to be bumps along the road, but I feel at this point it's all about getting better."
Scott Downs worked a perfect eighth and B.J. Ryan finished for his second save in three chances.
Lyle Overbay singled in Kevin Millar in the second inning for the only run of the game.
Dallas Braden (1-2) gave up one run and five hits in a career-high 7 1-3 innings for Oakland.
The Athletics have been shut out three times this season and have scored an AL-low 47 runs.
"It's kind of the reverse of what we anticipated," manager Bob Geren said. "We anticipated scoring a lot of runs and trying to get this young pitching through it. We're actually doing just the opposite right now."
Braden doesn't expect Oakland's drought to last long.
"We have a lineup full of Great White sharks," Braden said. "If they smell blood it's going to be on and cracking. We've just got to get that first cut. I don't foresee anybody licking their lips when they face this lineup."
The A's nearly tied it in the third but Mark Ellis was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on Ryan Sweeney's double to right-center. Vernon Wells threw to second baseman Aaron Hill, whose relay to catcher Raul Chavez arrived well ahead of Ellis.
Ellis might have scored had he not slowed down approaching second base.
"With one out, I was making sure I didn't get doubled up," he said. "If I had known it was going to go as far as it did, I would have kept on going."
Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez returned to the lineup after missing five games with a sore right shoulder. Chavez batted sixth and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
"Hopefully this last episode with the shoulder is behind him now and he'll start swinging the bat," Geren said.
Ryan struggled with his velocity during spring training and got off to a rough start this season, blowing a save against Detroit on April 7 and yielding three runs in the ninth inning of a 5-4 victory at Cleveland on April 11. He earned his first save at Minnesota last Monday and pitched a scoreless inning against Oakland on Saturday.
Ryan looked comfortable again Sunday, pitching around a Matt Holliday single to close it out.
"He's throwing the ball good," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It looks like he's elevating the ball a little to throw some strikes instead of being so down in the strike zone."
Millar walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Overbay's single to center in the second.
Notes: Toronto SS Marco Scutaro made a diving catch on Cust's liner in the second. ... Every Toronto batter reached base once except LF Travis Snider. ... The Blue Jays have won eight of their past nine games against the Athletics. ... Oakland INF Nomar Garciaparra (right calf) sat for the second day in a row and has missed three of the past four games. ... Oakland starters are a combined 1-5 this season.