The Royals continued their recent success against the A's in Oakland on Tuesday night, as they won the 12th of their last 20 games at McAfee Coliseum, defeating the home team 5-2.
Once again, the Royals used a good starting-pitching performance to wrap up their second victory in as many games against the A's.
The battery tandem of starting pitcher Gil Meche and catcher John Buck was the main reason for the Royals' success, but it took a while for either offense to get going.
Through 5.2 innings pitched, A's lefty Greg Smith—5-10, 4.04 ERA—had given up just one hit, a third-inning leadoff triple by Royals rookie shortstop Mike Aviles.
Aviles went on to score on a Mark Grudzielanek sacrifice fly. That run was matched by the A's in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Mark Ellis.
Before getting to six innings of one-hit ball, Smith had to get past Aviles.
Not so much.
Aviles turned on a Smith fastball and belted it over the left-field wall, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.
They wouldn't look back.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Royals had runners on second and third and one out, when right-fielder Mark Teahen couldn't get the run home—he grounded into a fielders choice, as rookie outfielder Mitch Maier was tagged out at home plate.
However, with runners at first and third and two outs in the inning, Buck stepped up to the plate.
After swinging through one fastball, Buck sent an 0-1 fastball high over the left-center-field wall, giving KC a 5-1 lead and deadening the Oakland crowd.
While Aviles and Buck led the KC offensive attack, whatever offense the A's could muster up was provided mainly by Ellis and Jack Hannahan, who each had two hits.
However, Meche—9-9, 4.22 ERA—and his mid-90s fastball were too much for the A's on this night. Meche went seven innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out eight.
Since the Midsummer Classic, Meche has had three starts for the Royals, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings. In those outings, Meche has surrendered just 12 total hits and four walks, and has struck out 18 batters.
Smith took the loss for the A's, as he gave up five runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out five in seven innings of work.
The Royals go for the series sweep on Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum, as their young right-hander Brian Bannister, 7-9, 5.40 ERA, will toe the rubber. The A's will counter with a righty of their own, newly acquired Sean Gallagher. Combining his stats with the Cubs and the A's, Gallagher is 4-4 with a 4.03 ERA.