Royals 3, Athletics 2

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Captain Mike Sweeney provided the Kansas City Royals with a much needed lift.

Sweeney hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning and Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 Wednesday night.

“It was a fastball he left in the middle and I was able to capitalize,” Sweeney said. “Something finally clicked on that third at-bat (a single) and I carried it into the eighth against (Justin) Duchscherer. Every one knows that our team needed that lift. It was a thrill to be able to provide that lift to our team. The main thing is we won.”

The Royals had lost four straight and 11 of their last 15 games.

“If we’re down 8-2 and I hit that home run, it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s about this team and winning. Gil Meche pitched great. Mark Teahen provided some great defense in right field. I just happened to be the guy who provided the last run. It’s huge. We’ve got to get back on the winning track.”

Sweeney hit a 1-0 pitch from Duchscherer (3-2) out to left for his 194th career homer, moving him past Amos Otis and into second place on the Royals’ list. Only Hall of Famer George Brett has more with 317.

“George Brett is Mr. Royal and he’ll always be Mr. Royal,” Sweeney said. “I’m still a long ways from him. I don’t foresee me trying to go after George’s record. He’s going to be Mr. Kansas City forever, but it is an honor to be at the top of that list with George.”

Jimmy Gobble (1-1) pitched the eighth and rookie Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his sixth save in seven opportunities.

Oakland’s Dan Haren and Kansas City’s Meche entered ranked first and third in the AL in ERA, and lived up to their early season results.

Haren gave up two earned runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one. His ERA inched from 1.75 to 1.89, still the best in the league.

“I really didn’t have much, but I battled,” Haren said “I worked out of first and second no-out jams in the fifth and sixth. I was fortunate. That’s a tough way to lose.”

Meche limited the A’s to two runs, one earned, and three hits in six innings to lower his ERA from 2.23 to 2.15. He walked four and struck out seven, both season highs.

Meche, who signed a $55 million, five-year contract in December, has pitched at least six innings in each of his eight starts and leads the AL with 54 1-3 innings.

“Everything was sharp,” Meche said. “Even though I was up in the strike zone with my fastball, I felt real good with it. I made some pitches with it when I needed to. My curveball command and just the break on the pitch was a lot sharper than it has been. My cutter was really good. And I threw some good change ups for some punch outs too.

Alex Gordon, who leads the league with eight hit by pitches, was hit by a Haren pitch in the second, went to second on a groundout and scored on Shane Costa’s single, his first hit since being called up May 3.

Gordon dropped Nick Swisher’s foul popup leading off the fourth for his seventh error. Swisher ended up with a walk and Dan Johnson followed with a home run into the Royals’ bullpen, putting Oakland up 2-1.

“I grooved a fastball to him,” Meche said. “The only mistake I made the 1-0 pitch to Johnson. He’s a good fastball hitter and he got it. I never get rattled by errors.”

Billy Butler snapped an 0-for-12 skid with an RBI double in fourth to tie it at 2. Butler’s double scored Teahen, who led off the inning with a double to extend his hitting streak to a team-best nine games.

Teahen threw out Jason Kendall at the plate to end the seventh for his sixth outfield assist, which ties him for the major league lead.

“Teahen made a great play; he really did,” A’s manager Bob Geren said “”That was a big-time play on wet grounds. It was a pretty good battle with two good pitchers going. We had a chance in the seventh and couldn’t get it done. Mike Sweeney is a big-time hitter and he hit a home run late. Haren pitched great again.”


Kendall snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a fourth-inning single. Kendall is 6-for-8 off Meche in his career. … Sweeney, who played first base for only the second time this season, has a seven-game hitting streak. Royals manager Buddy Bell said 1B Ross Gload was unavailable because of flu-like symptoms.

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