Athletics 5, Royals 4, 11 innings
Johnson hit a game-ending sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the 11th that scored Shannon Stewart on a tight slide at the plate for the winning run, lifting the A’s to a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
“I was fortunate to get it just deep enough,” Johnson said. “Stew, as fast as he is, he got in there. It was the perfect throw and the catcher made an unbelievable catch.”
Lenny DiNardo (1-1) pitched the 11th for the victory in a game that went 3 hours, 43 minutes.
Stewart and Nick Swisher hit consecutive one-out singles against Joakim Soria (1-2) before Eric Chavez was intentionally walked to bring up Johnson, who earlier extended his AL-best hitting streak to 15 games with a single to start the sixth.
Stewart knew the Royals would have to pull off the perfect play to get him.
“I was going no matter what. I figured if anybody had a good chance, he had a chance to make that play right there,” Stewart said. “Any time a ball is hit to the outfield, you have to make a perfect throw.”
Phillips, meanwhile, thought he got Stewart—a different view than plate umpire Dale Scott.
“I had my foot in front of the plate,” Phillips said. “I honestly thought I tagged him out before his foot came off my foot. I think we should still be out there, but it doesn’t matter what I think. The umpire thought he was safe and his opinion is the one that counts.”
Both teams missed their share of chances.
Oakland’s Jack Cust, who hit six home runs in his first eight games with the A’s, came up with the bases loaded in the ninth but struck out swinging to end the inning.
Each of Oakland’s last three games have been decided in the last at-bat and nine of the A’s last 13 games have been have been decided in the seventh or later.
Tony Pena Jr. hit a tying two-run triple in the ninth that took a funny bounce in center field, his career-high fourth hit.
After David Riske allowed a one-out walk to Shannon Stewart in the ninth, Zack Greinke relieved to face Swisher and he singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. Johnson followed with a walk to load the bases.
“We got a big hit from Tony, but we couldn’t execute later in the game,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Bobby Crosby singled in two runs to break up a scoreless tie in the fourth, and Kennedy struck out four in 7 2-3 innings and allowed three of his six hits to Pena Jr. Chavez and Mark Ellis each drove in runs in eighth for the A’s.
John Buck hit his seventh homer to start the eighth for Kansas City’s only run against Kennedy, who retired eight straight batters between Pena’s first two singles.
Marco Scutaro, who started in right field because of Oakland’s injury-depleted outfield, doubled among his two hits and stole his first base of the season. Chavez’s run-scoring double made it 3-1, and Ellis added an RBI single.
Kennedy, coming off his first win of 2007 in a 17-3 victory May 10 at Kansas City, had done the relievers a big favor by working deep into the game. Earlier in the day, Oakland placed Street on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his right elbow. And the team’s ninth-inning replacement for the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year, Justin Duchscherer, wasn’t available to pitch because of an arthritic right hip.
The A’s won despite grounding into double plays in each of the first three innings and again in the sixth. They got to Brian Bannister in the fourth, when Swisher led off with a single and Johnson walked two batters later. After Cust’s groundout, Crosby singled in two runs. Crosby is batting .313 (15-for-48) in 12 May games after hitting .215 in April.
Bannister, who hasn’t won since April 16 last year against Milwaukee, allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked three in his second-longest start of the season.
The Royals had won two straight for just the third time this season after taking Monday night’s series opener 2-1.
Buck has hit in eight of his last nine games, batting .321 (9-for-28) with three home runs and six RBIs. … The gametime temperature was 48 degrees, the lowest road temperature this season for the Royals. … Street is scheduled to be examined by Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Wednesday.