Ninth-Inning HR Boosts Royals Past A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Once again, Gil Meche and Dan Haren shut down the opposing hitters and had nothing to show for it on their records. And once again, a game between those two aces was decided on a home run against Justin Duchscherer.

John Buck broke up a scoreless game with a two-run homer in the ninth inning and the Kansas City Royals won consecutive games for just the third time this season, beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1 on Monday night.

"It will be nice to face a guy with a different name than Haren my next start," Meche said after his second no-decision in six days against Oakland's right-hander. "He's making pitches where we're just not getting hits off them. That's two starts in a row we've been back-to-back with quick innings."

Duchscherer (3-3) came on after Haren held the Royals scoreless through eight innings and gave up a one-out single to Alex Gordon. Gordon stole second before Buck hit a drive over the fence right-center for his sixth homer of the season.

"Buck's had some great hits for us," manager Buddy Bell said. "We haven't had many but the ones we have gotten he's been a part of. Tonight was a big win for us, probably our biggest of the year."

Duchscherer also allowed a tiebreaking homer to Mike Sweeney in the eighth inning last Wednesday when Oakland fell 3-2 to the Royals.

Duchscherer said he's been bothered by an arthritic condition in his right hip since his first outing of spring training and it has affected his command.

"Maybe I just have to stop being stubborn and get it fixed," Duchscherer said.

Meche pitched seven scoreless innings, Jimmy Gobble (2-1) escaped a jam in the eighth and Joakim Soria allowed an RBI single to pinch-hitter Shannon Stewart in the ninth before earning his seventh save in nine opportunities.

The A's had plenty of chances against the Royals but went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-8 against Meche.

Meche maintained his perfect ERA in four road starts, having not allowed an earned run in 27 innings away from Kansas City. But he's only managed one win in those games, having gotten little support from his teammates.

"He was the reason we were still in that ballgame," Buck said. "It could have gotten out of hand because there were guys in scoring position almost every inning and he just pitched."

Meche even controlled Jack Cust, who had homered in four straight games and hit six in seven games since making his debut with the A's on May 6. Cust went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Haren allowed four hits and walked four in eight innings, striking out eight to lower his ERA to an AL-best 1.64. Meche is third in the league with a 1.91 ERA after allowing seven hits and two walks in seven innings.

"I had probably the best stuff I've had all year," Haren said. "The ball was moving a lot. My stuff was sharp. It was almost hard for me to control it."

Both teams failed to capitalize on good scoring chances in the first inning. The Royals loaded the bases with one out, but Shane Costa struck out and Esteban German was retired on a flyout.

Oakland got a leadoff triple from Travis Buck in the bottom half before Meche got Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez on groundouts to first base and struck out Milton Bradley.

The A's had other chances against Meche, putting a runner on in all seven innings he pitched.

Oakland failed to capitalize on an unusual stolen base with one out in the fifth. Bobby Crosby left for second base, but the Royals called a pitchout. Crosby stopped about halfway toward second, but John Buck's throw was high and went into center field. Crosby started up again and slid in safely as David DeJesus tried to flip the ball to second with his glove. Jason Kendall and Travis Buck grounded out to end the threat.

The A's put a runner on third with one out in the seventh when Mark Ellis' single to right field deflected off Mark Teahen's glove for a two-base error. Teahen atoned for the misplay when he threw Ellis out at home on Kendall's flyout.

"It was an interesting game," Meche said. "I've never seen two guys have that much luck on their side. We had chances to score, so did they. We were just both able to make pitches when we needed to."

Notes

  • Teahen has a major league-leading eight outfield assists, including seven in his last 10 games.

  • Gordon made his first start at first base for the Royals and got tested early. Three of the first five batters grounded out to first base.

  • Oakland 1B Dan Johnson singled in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.


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