OAKLAND, Calif. -- John Gibbons led the Kansas City Royals to a narrow victory in manager Trey Hillman's absence by doing things the way he knows Hillman would.
Alberto Callaspo hit a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth, Kyle Davies struck out six and won back-to-back starts for the first time all season, and the Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Gibbons, the bench coach, had been 0-4 in his other outings as acting manager this year.
Hillman missed his second successive game to be in Texas following the death of his father-in-law. He will rejoin the club back home in Kansas City.
"I know how he runs the team, how he uses his bench and things like that," Gibbons said. "So, yeah, I always keep that in mind and the thing about baseball, it's not like football where it's all X's and O's. Basically the game is played the same way on both sides."
Callaspo also had an earlier single to help the Royals bounce back a night after a sloppy 8-5 loss in which they led 4-0 early. Kansas City captured its first victory in four tries this year at the Coliseum.
Rajai Davis hit a home run in the first to put the A's ahead, but Miguel Olivo's RBI single in the top of the second tied it.
Oakland missed several key chances, stranding 11 baserunners and going 1 for 10 with men in scoring position.
"It was a tough one," manager Bob Geren said. "That was a game I thought we should have won. We had a lot of opportunities."
Billy Butler hit the Royals' majors-best 43rd triple in the second, his first since Aug. 30, 2007, against Detroit in Kansas City -- a span of 1,030 at-bats and 278 games.
Kansas City loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Losing pitcher Jay Marshall (0-2) allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning then Jeff Gray relieved and walked Butler. First baseman Daric Barton fielded Mike Jacobs' grounder and threw out David DeJesus at home to save a run, but Callaspo followed with his single.
Davies (6-9) again looked sharp after beating the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on Aug. 27. The right-hander, making his sixth start since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Aug. 5, struck out five or more for the fourth time in five starts -- four of those on the road. Davies allowed one run and four hits in six innings and walked two.
"Everybody wants to go out there and do well. It's a group of guys," Davies said. "No one wants to be the guy that's lacking. We know the record's not where we want it, but we can play better and we all want to play better. I think that's what keeps us motivated."
Kansas City won for only the second time in five games, but used four of its six pitchers in the seventh inning to help secure this one. Joakim Soria threw a career-high 45 pitches in two innings for his 21st save in 24 opportunities, recovering from trouble in the eighth and again after allowing the first two batters to reach in the ninth.
Adam Kennedy singled in a run in the seventh for Oakland, then the A's added another in the eighth on Mark Ellis' fielder's choice.
"It's unfortunate because we did have a really good chance to win that ballgame," Ellis said.
Edgar Gonzalez made his first start since May for the A's and only his third of the year. He hung tough, giving up three hits and one run in five innings, with five strikeouts and a walk.
The A's talked to him about working fast so he could stay in the game longer. Geren liked that he was economical, throwing only 69 pitches.
"I focused the whole game, pitch by pitch, to be quicker," Gonzalez said. "Give me the ball and I'm ready. Before, I was taking too long, grabbing the dirt or touching my hat."
The A's lead the season series 5-2 with one meeting left Wednesday. ... Josh Anderson stole his 17th base for Kansas City. ... The Royals activated OF Jose Guillen from the 15-day disabled list, more than a month after he injured his knee putting on a shin guard. Guillen is expected to be designated hitter Wednesday in the series finale. Guillen sprained his right knee on July 22 in the second inning of a 9-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. After playing two innings in the field, Guillen came in to get ready for his first at-bat. ... The A's will activate INF Bobby Crosby from the DL on Wednesday.