Royals 3, Athletics 2, 10 innings

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PHOENIX (AP)—Mike Piazza is already banged-up a bit.

Oakland’s designated hitter was plunked just above his left elbow by a pitch from Kansas City’s Brian Bannister on Tuesday and left the Athletics’ 3-2 loss in 10 innings.

Piazza, a longtime catcher, has a bruised left triceps. Impressions from the seams of the baseball were visible on his elbow in the clubhouse after the game. Piazza doubled earlier to raise his spring training average to .444, third-best among the A’s regulars.

“He got it pretty good,” said Piazza, who initially put a thick bag of ice on his elbow. “I’m just going to ice it again, see how it feels and go from there. If everything’s all right, I’m sure it will calm down in a day or two.”

Also, Royals reliever Matt Wright hit A’s infielder Lou Merloni in the head with a pitch in the 10th. Merloni left the game but is expected to be OK.

Oakland batters have been hit by pitches seven times in six spring training games, but A’s manager Bob Geren didn’t sound upset.

“It just happens,” Geren said. “Nobody likes to get hit but everybody knows it’s unintentional.”

Jason LaRue homered twice for the Royals and Bannister gave up two hits in three innings.

The homers were the first two of the Cactus League season for LaRue, who hit .194 with eight home runs for the Cincinnati Reds in 2006. No. 1 catcher John Buck, who batted .245 with 11 homers in 114 starts for the Royals last season, also has a home run this spring.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. “Both of them are major league catchers. I just hope in the end it really becomes a tough decision for us. Right now both of them are stepping up, and that’s what they need to do.”

LaRue, obtained in an offseason trade with Cincinnati, hit a first-pitch homer off Oakland starter Joe Blanton leading off the second. LaRue hit another solo shot off reliever Shane Komine in the sixth.

Shane Costa’s bloop single drove in Billy Butler with the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th. Kansas City outhit the A’s 11-5, but Bell was far from pleased.

“I didn’t like a whole lot, really,” he said. “The biggest thing is we’re really bearing down on our pitching. The pitching was probably the best part of (the game). I didn’t think the bats were all that great.”

The A’s took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Erubiel Durazo singled and scored on Antonio Perez’s triple.

Blanton had his second consecutive strong start. He gave up three hits in two innings, striking out four and walking two. Blanton’s 16 wins last season matched Barry Zito for the team lead.

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