Royals 10, Athletics 3
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Abraham Nunez already has a plan for the ball from his first career grand slam: It will be a gift for his father, Amado, the man who pushed him to play baseball.
Nunez hit a grand slam for his first home run of the season, spoiling Mark Mulder’s bid to become the majors’ first 16-game winner and leading the Kansas City Royals over the Oakland Athletics 10-3 Friday night.
Nunez connected on full-count with two outs in the sixth to break a scoreless tie. It was only his second career homer and his first grand slam. The four RBIs also were a career best.
“I’m never going to forget that. It was my first one,” Nunez said. “I knew I hit it good and that it had a chance.”
A fan threw the ball back onto the field, which allowed Nunez to leave with the souvenir.
John Buck, another rookie, also hit a grand slam for the Royals, the first of his career and the first time in club history the team has had two in a game — which ties a major league record. It marked the second time the A’s have allowed two grand slams in a game and the first since 1986 against California.
Buck snapped an 0-for-21 streak with his shot to center and the Royals ended a 10-game losing streak to the A’s, which included the first six meetings this season.
According to The Elias Sports Bureau, Buck and Nunez are the first rookie teammates to hit grand slams in the same game since the rookie rule went into effect in 1957.
While Nunez’s reward was the ball, Buck earned himself another day in the lineup Saturday, when manager Tony Pena had originally planned to rest the catcher.
“It was one of those at-bats where I went up there and saw the first pitch and told myself ‘I saw it good, hit it up the middle,”’ Buck said. “When you’re struggling, you tend to think too much.”
Kansas City starter Mike Wood (2-4)—yet another rookie to make a big contribution—pitched six strong innings to win for the first time since June 29, a span of eight starts.
It was his first career start against the A’s, who selected him in the 10th round of the 2001 draft then dealt him June 24 in a three-team trade that sent star center fielder Carlos Beltran from the Royals to the Astros and brought closer Octavio Dotel to Oakland from Houston. Wood had lost his last four decisions. Buck also was part of the swap.
Wood was bothered by stiffness in his lower back on the flight to Oakland, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from pitching.
“It’s very rewarding,” he said of beating his former franchise. “Maybe there’s a little regret they let me go. Ever since they drafted me, it was my dream to pitch for those guys. … My teammates were pumped for me today.”
Joe Randa added a two-run homer in the eighth off Mulder, Randa’s fourth of the season.
Mulder (15-4) didn’t allow a baserunner past first until the sixth.
Kansas City’s David DeJesus singled with one out in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, a record by a Royals rookie. He advanced to third on Mike Sweeney’s single to right two batters later. Ken Harvey walked to load the bases.
Mulder then allowed Nunez’s grand slam, a towering shot over the center-field wall.
“I made one bad pitch really,” Mulder said. “It kind of lost the game for us, but otherwise I felt really good.”
The A’s made things interesting in the bottom half when they loaded the bases against Wood. But Bobby Crosby was thrown out at home on Eric Chavez’s hard roller to first. Scott Hatteberg followed with a sharp single to make it 4-1, but Mark McLemore was thrown out trying to score on the play when DeJesus made a perfect throw home from center to Buck to save a run.
The A’s loaded the bases again in the seventh with three singles against reliever Shawn Camp, but Mark Kotsay grounded into an inning-ending double play. Camp was later taken to a hospital for X-rays after getting hit on the right hip on a single by Chavez in the eighth.
Oakland added two runs in the eighth, on Erubiel Durazo’s RBI single and Billy McMillon’s sacrifice fly that was dropped by Nunez in right field with an error charged to DeJesus for getting in Nunez’s way.
Buck’s grand slam against Jairo Garcia was his fourth homer this year.
Wood allowed one run and five hits, struck out one and walked one.
Mulder and San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt are the majors’ only 15-game winners. Mulder has won 15 or more games twice in his career—21 in 2001 and 19 in 2002. The earliest he’s ever reached 16 wins was Aug. 27, in 2002.
The left-hander lost at home for just the second time in 13 starts this year. He was tagged for seven runs on eight hits in seven-plus innings, struck out five and walked two.
The Royals hadn’t beaten the A’s since an 11-6 victory May 30, 2003, at Kansas City. … Oakland is 21-4 vs. the Royals in the last two years. … The throw home by DeJesus was his third assist this year. … The Royals are just 15-40 on the road this season. They are in a stretch of playing 20 of 29 games away from home.