OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kansas City has come close to winning half its games against right-handers. On Thursday, the Royals started working on left-handers.
Scott Elarton recorded his first victory since last July, slumping Mike Sweeney had two hits and the Royals defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-4 Thursday to win their first road series.
"We're trying to beat anybody, either right-handed or left-handed, it doesn't matter," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "We've played close, but we never seem to have enough to win."
No longer stymied by lefties, Sweeney said this series win could lead to better things for the Royals.
"The Oakland A's, hands down, have the best pitching staff in baseball," Sweeney said. "To take three of four is a huge feat, especially the way we have been playing up to this point in the season. There's a good group of guys here and we're working hard to come together as a team. The record may not show it now, but come October it will."
Kansas City, which had been 0-10 against left-handed starters, got to Dallas Braden (1-3) early. Making his fourth major league start, Braden (1-3) allowed five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"I've learned that one mistake can definitely change the tide at this level," said Braden, who started the year in Double-A. "Any time you move up a level it's a learning experience but at the same time it's frustrating to lose. I don't like the word and any time it happens I want to crawl in a hole."
Braden was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento after the game.
"It wasn't exactly a great outing but he kept us in the game," A's manager Bob Geren said. "This team has had experience, injuries or not, with going through bad times. They know they will turn things around."
Elarton (1-0) gave up four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, getting his first win since July 16 at Detroit. The right-hander made his second start of the season after missing the final 71 games last year and the first 36 this year because of shoulder surgery.
"I fell out of rhythm a couple of times and there's definitely room for improvement," Elarton said. "But now that I'm healthy, I feel I can make those strides."
Zack Greinke and Jimmy Gobble each pitched an inning, David Riske recorded two outs and Joakim Soria finished for his eighth save in 10 chances.
Bobby Crosby hit a second-inning home run and drove in two runs as the A's lost two in a row for the first time since ending a three-game slide on April 28.
Kansas City, 14-16 in games started by right-handers, took a 2-0 lead in the second when Mark Teahen scored on a wild pitch and Paul Phillips hit an RBI grounder.
"Every time we go out there and put a 'W' on the board it's huge for this organization," Phillips said. "We have good players on this team and we should have more wins than we do, but things are coming together and it's nice to see some results."
Crosby's home run cut the lead in half but the Royals made it 5-1 in the sixth when Sweeney and Phillips hit RBI doubles and Emil Brown followed with a triple. Sweeney had entered in a 2-for-21 slide.
Oakland closed within a run in the sixth when Crosby and Mark Ellis singled in runs and Travis Buck hit a sacrifice fly. Teahen hit an RBI double in the bottom half, and Esteban German had a run-scoring grounder in the eighth.
A's RHP Justin Duchscherer received a cortisone shot for his sore hip and was projected to miss at least two more games. ... A's OF Milton Bradley was out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game because of a sore hamstring. ... Ryan Shealy had three hits in his first five at-bats after coming off the DL. He was 3-for-30 before going on the DL. ... A's RHP Esteban Loaiza will miss his scheduled rehab start on Friday because of a sore knee. ... The Royals have won three consecutive series against the A's in Oakland. ... RHP Connor Robertson made his major league debut with the A's, allowing a run on three hits over 1 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.