OAKLAND, Calif.--One swing of the bat by Raul Ibanez, the oldest player on the field, ruined an otherwise superb outing by Sonny Gray and keyed a 1-0 victory by the Kansas City Royals over the A's at the Coliseum on Friday night.
Ibanez, 42, drilled a Gray pitch over the right-center field fence with one out in the fifth inning for the game's only run.
The A's threatened in the ninth, when Josh Reddick lined a ball into the right field corner for a two-out double. Royals closer Greg Holland struck out Alberto Callaspo to end the game and notch his 30th save.
The A's didn't get their first base runner off Jeremy Guthrie until the fourth, when his former Stanford teammate, Sam Fuld, led off with a double. He reached third with one out, but the A's weren't able to get him home.
Brandon Moss fouled out to the catcher with runners on first and third and one out in the fourth. He had another chance to get Fuld home from third with one out in the sixth.
This time, Moss got called out on strikes two pitches after he crushed a deep drive that hooked into foul territory before it reached the foul pole. Jed Lowrie also got called out on strikes to end the inning.
Gray matched Guthrie pitch for pitch, except for the one that Ibanez hit over the fence.
He allowed only three hits in seven innings without walking any batters. That was in keeping with the form he displayed all July.
Gray (12-4) went 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in his five July starts. Overall, he had won six straight decisions over his last seven starts before Friday night's loss.
Fuld played well, for the most part, in his first game back with the A's after Thursday's trade from Minnesota. He played a flawless center field and started two promising rallies. However, even he missed out on a chance to get the A's on the board.
He struck out with runners on first and second in the seventh to end that threat. The Royals bullpen closed out the game after Guthrie pitched the first six innings.
--Center fielder Coco Crisp recently received injections in an effort to lessen his neck pain. He didn't play Friday and is day-to-day, manager Bob Melvin said.
"It made him feel a little bit better," Melvin said before the game.
With Crisp ailing and backup center fielder Craig Gentry on the disabled list, the A's lacked a true center fielder. Hence, trading for Fuld filled an immediate need, Melvin said.
"That was another really important trade," Melvin said. "That was a for-now, right-now trade, because we were playing some guys out of position in center field."
--Melvin hasn't spoken with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes since Thursday's trade that sent him to Boston for pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Melvin did reach out to Cespedes through interpreter Ariel Prieto.
Melvin said he "obviously, wished him the best."
In Cespedes, the Red Sox get one of the league's premier power hitters and someone who figures to have a field day with the short left-field wall in Fenway Park.
"That's probably a ballpark that suits him," Melvin said.
--The A's opted to stick with Jason Hammel in the starting rotation over Jesse Chavez, even though Hammel is 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA in his four starts with the A's.
"He certainly hasn't done anything to deserve that," Melvin said of Chavez being sent to the bullpen. "It's just the way our rotation is right now. It's pretty significant. It's pretty exciting to be able to run out each and every day a guy that your team feels like (you're) going to have a chance to win with."
The A's starting rotation now features Gray, Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir and Hammel.
Melvin said the starting rotation is as good as he's ever been around.
"It's pretty impressive," Melvin said. "As I said before, I was happy with our club before. To bring in another guy like this, who is used to being the No. 1 guy, is pretty exciting."
Chavez said he is going to adjust to being a reliever and attack the role with the same verve he did last season.
"I'm not upset, I'm not mad about it," Chavez said. "You can't go down there with a bad attitude, because a bad attitude brings a bad performance. That's something I've learned in my career."
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