Royals find going rough in series finale

By: Dick Kaegel /
By: Dick Kaegel /

OAKLAND -- It was a nice thought. A Royals victory would have given them a three-game sweep in Oakland for the first time in 20 seasons.
Well, hold that thought for a while. The Athletics scuttled the notion by salvaging the final game, 6-1, on Sunday as 26,445 fans bathed in the sunshine at McAfee Coliseum.

"Maybe we'll get it next year," said manager Buddy Bell.

If so, of course, it'll be under a different skipper because Bell is stepping down after this season.

The last time the Royals swept a three-game series at the Coliseum was June 14-16, 1988. That was so long ago that the winning pitchers were Bret Saberhagen, Charlie Leibrandt and Mark Gubicza. George Brett and Frank White were in the lineup.

The 2007 Royals had to settle for winning the series, two games to one.

The A's seem to be in a triples frenzy. That's how they started this game against Royals right-hander Kyle Davies. A line drive by Shannon Stewart sailed past left fielder Joey Gathright and went for three bases. After going 54 games without a triple, this was the A's seventh triple in their last 10 games.

Jeff DaVanon's sacrifice fly brought Stewart home for a 1-0 lead. And their pleasure doubled in the fourth when Marco Scutaro belted a solo home run high over the left-field wall.

Those two runs were all the A's got off Davies, although he met travail throughout his five innings. Throwing a whopping 99 pitches, he gave up six hits and three walks.

"That's way too many," Davies said.

"When you go five innings as a starting pitcher, that's not really helping the team win."

Davies has had one stellar outing in his four starts since being obtained from the Atlanta Braves. His Royals record is 1-2.

"He had a high pitch count early. He battled his command the whole game," Bell said. "His pitches were all over the place, but he gave us a chance to win."

John Bale, a left-hander, walked out of the Royals' bullpen and right into trouble in the sixth inning. His first pitch was hammered over the right-field wall by Dan Johnson.

The hits just kept coming. Scutaro beat out a single on a grounder to Tony Pena in the shortstop hole before Jack Hannahan lined a double just inside the right-field line for a run. Rob Bowen popped a single before Stewart lofted a sacrifice fly.

DaVanon's single was the fifth Oakland hit of the sixth inning, but Bale finally stopped the scoring with two strikeouts. Even so, the A's lead was 5-0.

Scutaro, a backup shortstop, finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs. He drove in the A's final run in the seventh against Bale.

Lenny DiNardo, the A's left-hander, won his fifth straight decision to go 8-6. Through the first six innings the Royals had just two singles, both by Gathright.

They finally got a run in the seventh on Mark Grudzielanek's double and Emil Brown's single. But that was it.

"Give him [DiNardo] some credit. We didn't have a whole lot of baserunners; we didn't have a lot of opportunities," Bell said.

Gathright got his third single in the eighth, making him 7-for-11 in the series and 21-for-51 (.412), since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Aug. 1.

"Other than Grudzielanek, we don't have anybody else doing anything offensively," Bell said.

A lefty batter, Gathright nonetheless had all three of his hits -- one a safe bunt -- off the lefty DiNardo. That could mean more playing time for Gathright against lefties.

DiNardo retired 15 of the first 16 batters and needed just 85 pitches to breeze through his eight innings. Closer Huston Street worked the ninth inning.

Davies had no such good fortune.

"I felt really good out of the bullpen. I tried to carry it into the game but I was too amped up, I guess," Davies said.

"They're going to hit a couple fastballs -- especially if I can't get 'em down."

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