Oakland at Kansas City

Scoreboard
Oakland (72-46)002000000231
Kansas City (64-53) «11000010x360

Royals win 8th in row, top A's, take Central lead

By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
  •  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Alcides Escobar pumped his fist. Jarrod Dyson did a backflip. And for the first time in more than a decade, the Kansas City Royals were in first place in mid-August.

Yordano Ventura outpitched Sonny Gray in a matchup of talented young starters Monday night, and Escobar drove in the go-ahead run as Kansas City beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 to take over the AL Central lead from Detroit with its eighth consecutive victory.

''You want to be in first place. Our goal was to get back to first place,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''Now our goal is to stay in first place.''

The Royals trailed the Tigers by eight games on July 21, but their 16th win in 19 games wiped away the deficit and gave them the lead at the latest point in a season since 2003.

''We're playing great,'' said Escobar, who drove in a run in the second inning before his two-out single off Gray (12-6) in the seventh gave Kansas City the lead for good.

Ventura lasted through sixth innings before giving way to Kelvin Herrera (3-2), who tossed a spotless seventh. Wade Davis breezed through the eighth and Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 35th save, though it didn't come without a little drama.

Josh Donaldson led off the ninth with a single, the first hit by the Athletics since the second inning, and Brandon Moss drew a walk. But after a brief conference on the mound, Holland got Derek Norris to bounce into a double play and Stephen Vogt to fly out to end the game.

''He has the ability to focus pitch to pitch, which good closers can do,'' Yost said. ''You get first and second with his stuff, you just have a feeling he's going to get out of it.''

Kansas City put pressure on right from the start, when Dyson and Omar Infante opened the game with back-to-back singles. Gray might have escaped the jam, though, if right fielder Josh Reddick hadn't flubbed a routine throw to the infield after Infante's hit. It allowed Dyson to reach third base easily, and he scored on Salvador Perez's double-play groundout.

''It's pretty embarrassing,'' Reddick said, ''especially since it cost us a run. And we end up losing by one run, so it doesn't make your feel any better.''

After Escobar made it 2-0 in th second, Oakland answered with some help from Ventura, who worked to overcome command problems most of the night. John Jaso led off with a single, Coco Crisp worked a walk and Donaldson earned another free pass to load the bases with two outs.

Moss hit a full-count pitch up the middle to score both runners and knot the game.

Yost pulled Ventura after a double play got the rookie right-hander through the sixth. And when Gray faltered in the seventh and Kansas City took the lead, one of the stingiest bullpens in baseball made sure the smallest of margins was enough.

''Those three guys at the end are as good as you get,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''They don't worry about righty-lefty. They feel when they get to the seventh inning with a lead, they feel pretty good about it.''

LEADERS OF THE PACK

The Royals have not trailed since the first inning of Thursday's game in Arizona, a span of 44 innings. ''There's just a real confidence right now when we step on the field,'' Yost said.

BULLISH BULLPENS

Herrera has worked 17 1-3 consecutive scoreless dating to June 27. That's the third-longest stretch in the majors behind Davis, who has gone 17 2-3 innings, and the A's Ryan Cook, who has gone 19 innings.

GRAY AREA

Gray struck out a career-low two batters while losing to Kansas City for the second time in his young career. The only other team he's lost to twice is Baltimore.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: SS Jed Lowrie was back in the starting lineup. He's missed time recently with a bruised right index finger.

Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer continues to wear a brace on his right hand after breaking his third metacarpal. He hopes to return in September.

UP NEXT

LHP Jon Lester, who beat the Royals in his first start with Oakland, tries to move to 3-0 since arriving from Boston in a July 31 trade. Kansas City counters with RHP Jeremy Guthrie.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Kansas City

A. Escobar
AB 3
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Oakland

B. Moss
AB 2
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Oakland Athletics
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLG
Coco Crisp, CF3100110.264.367.401
Josh Reddick, RF4000012.252.306.420
Josh Donaldson, 3B3010110.251.339.459
Brandon Moss, LF2012210.248.336.475
   Sam Fuld, PR0000000.258.346.349
Derek Norris, C4000014.294.391.471
Stephen Vogt, 1B3000101.314.347.492
Jed Lowrie, SS3000021.238.317.354
John Jaso, DH3110010.264.340.427
Eric Sogard, 2B3000011.213.301.267
Sonny Gray, P0000000.000.000.000
   Ryan Cook, P0000000.000.000.000
Totals2823259    
Batting
RBI - Brandon Moss 2 (74)
2-OUT RBI - Brandon Moss 2 (32)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Donaldson-Sogard-Vogt, Donaldson-Sogard-Vogt-Sogard-Lowrie
E - Josh Reddick (3, Throwing)
Oakland Athletics
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Sonny Gray (L,12-6) 7632320 2.86
Ryan Cook 1000000 2.33
Pitches-Strikes - Sonny Gray 96-66, Ryan Cook 10-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sonny Gray 11-6, Ryan Cook 2-1
Batters Faced - Sonny Gray 28, Ryan Cook 3
Kansas City Royals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLG
Jarrod Dyson, CF4110013.286.335.342
Omar Infante, 2B4010000.259.297.354
Salvador Perez, C4000000.268.306.413
Billy Butler, 1B4000000.276.324.387
Alex Gordon, LF3110010.279.356.436
Lorenzo Cain, RF1000201.301.340.411
Raul Ibanez, DH2000102.164.253.293
   Norichika Aoki, PR-DH0100000.267.339.336
Mike Moustakas, 3B3010002.201.262.392
Alcides Escobar, SS3022000.280.316.373
Yordano Ventura, P0000000.250.250.250
   Kelvin Herrera, P0000000.000.000.000
   Wade Davis, P0000000.000.000.000
   Greg Holland, P0000000.000.000.000
Totals2836232    
Batting
RBI - Alcides Escobar 2 (36)
2-OUT RBI - Alcides Escobar 2 (19)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Escobar-Infante-Butler, Escobar-Infante-Butler-Moustakas-Butler
Kansas City Royals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Yordano Ventura 6222450 3.45
Kelvin Herrera (W,3-2) 1000020 1.62
Wade Davis (H,25) 1000020 0.88
Greg Holland (S,35) 1100100 1.74
WP - Greg Holland (9)
Pitches-Strikes - Yordano Ventura 105-62, Kelvin Herrera 18-13, Wade Davis 11-8, Greg Holland 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yordano Ventura 4-8, Greg Holland 1-1
Batters Faced - Yordano Ventura 23, Kelvin Herrera 3, Wade Davis 3, Greg Holland 4
Game Information
Attendance - 21479
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Hal Gibson