KANSAS CITY, Mo. The A's will gladly leave Kauffman Stadium, and they took a much-needed victory with them as a parting gift.
Rookie Dan Straily threw 6 1/3 shutout innings to earn his first major league victory as the A's beat the Kansas City Royals 3-0 Thursday and avoided a three-game sweep.
Oakland went 2-4 on a six-game trip against the Royals and Chicago White Sox, dropping back-to-back series for the first time in more than two months. But the A's caught a glimpse of what Straily (1-0) can do when he's dialed in.
The right-hander, making just his third major league start, was coming off an outing in which he served up four homers to the Los Angeles Angels. He issued two walks in the second inning Thursday and loaded the bases with two outs, but after a visit from pitching coach Curt Young, Straily settled down and retired 13 of his final 15 hitters.
"After Curt went out and made that mound visit, (Straily) was off to the races," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "This was the stuff we heard and talked about."
Straily was leading professional baseball in strikeouts when he was promoted from the River Cats on Aug. 3. He is unlikely to rack up such gaudy totals in the bigs Straily has 12 strikeouts in 17 innings over his first three starts but he was more aggressive with his fastball than he had been against the Angels.
"He had a sneaky fastball and, to me, a really good changeup," Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "He kept me off-balance. We just never had anything going. Every time I came up, there was no one on."
Straily was in line to win his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, but the A's let a 4-1 ninth-inning lead get away. After Thursday's game, Straily received a text message from A's roving minor league pitching instructor Gil Patterson: "One down, 199 to go."
"It's one of those moments that you can't really think of any words to go with it," Straily said. "Just awesome."
The A's (62-55) won despite scratching out just five hits, true to form in a ballpark where they were shut out in three of six games this season. They sit 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay and Baltimore in the American League's wild-card race as they begin a six-game homestand tonight against Cleveland. But they need to get the bats going again if they're to remain in serious contention. They had just 14 total hits in the Royals series.
But the A's broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning on Coco Crisp's home run to right off Luke Hochevar (7-11), a ball initially ruled a double but correctly changed to a homer after umpires reviewed the replay and judged it cleared the wall.
Yoenis Cespedes hit an 0-2 fastball for another homer in the seventh, snapping his 14-game streak without an extra-base hit.
A's reliever Jerry Blevins recorded a crucial out in the bottom of the seventh, entering with the bases loaded and coaxing a popup from Chris Getz to end the inning. Then Jemile Weeks' eighth-inning single up the middle scored Derek Norris to make it 3-0.
Norris stole second to get into scoring position. Though he's hardly known for his speed, Norris has five stolen bases.
Notes Josh Reddick was back in the lineup, but after Melvin initially penciled him in at right field, he switched Reddick to designated hitter because the outfielder still feels lingering effects from a tooth he had pulled Monday.
Melvin said Brett Anderson would throw a bullpen session when the team returns to Oakland, and then the team will decide where to slot him in the rotation.