Athletics avoid 10th straight loss, open homestand with win over Royals

Cam Inman, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

OAKLAND — No. 9 hitter Zack Gelof’s mighty swing of the bat helped put an end to the A’s nine-game losing streak Tuesday night.

Gelof hooked a three-run homer down the left-field line for a 7-2 lead in the fourth inning, then the A’s harrowingly held on for a 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. So began a six-game homestand before an announced Coliseum crowd of 7,013, which paused pregame for a moment of silence to honor the late Willie Mays.

Closer Mason Miller came on in the ninth to notch his 13th save, fourth-most in Oakland history by a rookie.

Gelof’s 393-foot shot came on a 2-0 slider with no outs, and it chased Royals’ starter Alec Marsh, who took a no-hitter into the seventh in his previous start.

Also scoring on Gelof’s sixth home run of the year were Tyler Nevin and Lawrence Butler, both of whom came up Tuesday from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace veterans Seth Brown (outrighted to Triple-A) and J.D. Davis (designated for assignment).

That roster shakeup wasn’t too surprising in the aftermath of an 0-7 road trip, in which Brown and Davis continued their offensive struggles and reflected the A’s overall woes.

The A’s bats promptly came alive upon Tuesday night’s homecoming. They took a 2-0 lead in the first on J.J. Bleday’s RBI double and Brent Rooker’s sacrifice fly. The Royals pulled even in the next inning on Nick Loftin’s first career home run, to centerfield off A’s starter Hogan Harris.

Another RBI double from Bleday put the A’s back ahead in the third inning, and then Miguel Andujar drove in another run with an infield single that bounced off the gloves of the Royals’ third baseman and shortstop. That two-run rally put the A’s ahead 4-2. They had not scored more than five runs in any of their previous nine games/losses, and they reached that total only once, in a 10-inning loss Friday at Minnesota.


In the sixth, Bleday doubled for a third time Tuesday night, giving him 22 doubles this season that are third-most in the majors.

Harris allowed three runs (one earned), four hits, and two walks in five innings, exiting once his 100th pitch was caught on the center-field warning track. In the previous inning, Harris worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth to keep the A’s ahead 4-3. That set the stage for Gelof’s homer.

A’s reliever Austin Adams kept it a 7-3 lead in the seventh when he struck out the majors’ leading hitter, Bobby Witt Jr. Left stranded at second base was Adam Frazier, who had greeted A’s Adams with an opposite-field, leadoff double.

Reliever Lucas Erceg wasn’t as efficient in the eighth, yielding back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. The Royals scratched across two runs on two groundouts, then Scott Alexander entered to induce a rally-ending flyout.

Miller finished off the win by getting Witt to flyout, after starting that at-bat with a pair of 102-mph fastballs for strikes.

The A’s nine-game losing streak included seven defeats from their just-completed road trip through San Diego and Minnesota, with three coming in walk-off fashion. Losing streaks have not been uncommon. In May, the A’s lost eight straight. Last year, an 11-game skid ended three losses shy of their longest in Oakland history; the franchise record is 20 straight losses (1916, 1943).

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