OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Brian Bannister felt right at home, and in many ways he was at home. The rookie right-hander is moving to Northern California during the offseason.
“My wife (Megan) is from here and this is where we’re going to be living from now on,” Bannister said after his first career complete game in the Kansas City Royals’ 9-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night. “It was nice to pitch in front of family.”
Bannister (9-7) walked one and struck out four while winning for the ninth time in 13 decisions as he pitched Kansas City’s first complete game since last Aug. 29.
“You just have to let things happen,” Bannister said. “You keep going after them and a whole lot of good things happened.”
Emil Brown’s two-run shot, his first homer since July 14, highlighted a four-run rally in the first which gave Bannister all the support he needed. Brown broke an 0-for-12 streak with the long ball, and matched the RBI total of his previous 16 games combined.
“And we didn’t just sit right there,” Brown said. “Most of the credit has to go to the pitcher. We didn’t have any situations where we could get hurt.”
With the win and Chicago’s loss at Seattle, Kansas City moved into a fourth-place tie with the White Sox in the AL Central.
Nick Swisher homered and drove in both runs for the A’s, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Bannister leads all AL rookies with a 3.31 ERA. He’s 9-0 when getting at least four runs of support. In his seven losses, he’s received run support of one run or less.
“I thought early he couldn’t find his rhythm,” Royals’ manager Buddy Bell said. “He wasn’t struggling but he did have some trouble with the strike zone. All of a sudden he was throwing just about everything to wherever he wanted.”
Bannister, who threw two complete games in the minors, was hoping he could finish the game.
“After the eighth inning I walked to a corner of the dugout and kept my head down,” he said. “I didn’t want anybody to come over and shake my hand.”
Bell said he was going to get one hitter in the ninth, and Bannister turned that into a complete game.
“I’ve pitched in a lot of close games and when you pitch with a six or eight-run lead, it’s a different mindset. You still have to be efficient but you realize that the hitters may be trying to do too much.”
Dan Meyer (0-1) lost in his first major league start and his first major league appearance in three years. He lasted four innings, allowing six runs— three earned—and five hits. He walked two and did not strike out a batter.
“It could have been a lot better,” Meyer said. “My off-speed pitches weren’t crisp and I had trouble locating a little bit. My fastball keep me in there. I just got passive. I was two different guys out there.”
“He had a shaky first inning,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “After that he kind of settled in. He really gave up five hits but his pitch count got too high. Until further notice he’s a starter.”
Mark Grudzielanek also drove in two runs for the Royals, who won two in a row for the first time since winning four in succession July 26-29. Mark Teahan and Billy Butler also drove in runs, helping the Royals win for the fourth time in their last five games in Oakland.
Jack Cust’s fielding error in right on Esteban German’s flyball to lead off the game helped open the flood gates. Grudzielanek followed with an RBI triple, and Butler doubled in another run. Butler scored on Brown’s fifth home run of the season.
“It was a routine play and hit off the heel of my glove and just popped out,” Cust said. “We never recovered and it just snowballed from there. Bannister kept us off-balance all night.”
Swisher’s two-out solo homer in the first put the A’s on the scoreboard. Cust followed with a double but Bannister retired 12 of the next 14 hitters.
Teahan tripled in a run in the third and scored on a wild pitch. Tony Pena and Joey Gathright singled in the seventh. Pena scored on another wild pitch and Gathright scored on Grudzielanek’s infield grounder.
The Royals clinched at least a season series split with the A’s, their first non-losing series since 1999. … DaVanon became the 50th player used by the A’s, an Oakland record. … Bannister has allowed four or fewer runs in 19 of his 20 starts. … A’s pitchers have allowed the fewest home runs (65) in the AL. … Swisher’s home run was the first off Bannister since July 22, a span of five starts. … German has reached base safely in 22 straight starts.