OAKLAND, Calif. -- James Shields pacified the Oakland Athletics for eight innings, his lineup roared for a fifth-inning scoring splurge and the Royals departed O.co Coliseum with a 4-2 victory, their second in three games.
Shields completed eight innings for just the second time this year. Greg Holland notched his 31st save of the season. With the victory, Kansas City (57-53) pulled within 1 1/2 games of Toronto for the American League's second Wild Card.
The Royals tussled with baseball's most prolific offense for 27 innings this weekend. Oakland scored in just three of the frames. The only Athletic Shields couldn't handle was Josh Reddick, who bombed a pair of solo homers.
On Sunday, Shields did not miss many bats. He only struck out two. But he missed plenty of barrels. Along the way, he outshined former Tampa Bay teammate Scott Kazmir. Shields has recovered from an early-summer swoon and again resembled his reliable self. In his last seven starts, he has posted a 1.99 ERA.
For the third day in a row, the Royals starter opened with three perfect innings. On Friday, Jeremy Guthrie rode his command through six scoreless frames. On Saturday, Jason Vargas imploded amid a fifth-inning defensive meltdown.
Shields veered for Guthrie's path. He stayed perfect through the fifth. The spell broke with the second pitch of the sixth. It was a curveball, low in the zone but over the middle of the plate, and Reddick powered it over the high wall in right-center field.
In the eighth, Reddick crushed a first-pitch fastball to cut the Royals' lead in half. But Shields recovered to escape.
By then, of course, the Royals had already broken out. A rookie sparked their scoring. Through four innings, Kazmir gave up five hits. Except all were singles, and a Royal did not reach second base. In the first at-bat of the fifth, Christian Colon cracked a double into right.
An unlikely event extended the rally. Alcides Escobar accepted a walk for only the second time since July 1. A deluge followed: Nori Aoki slapped a fastball down the third-base line for an RBI double, Omar Infante smacked a slider into left to plate two runners and Salvador Perez capped the four-run burst with another line drive into left.
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