OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—So far, the “scrappy” Oakland Athletics haven’t been hindered much by their lack of power.
Oakland battered rookie phenom Luke Hochevar with base hits throughout the order just as it did Kansas City’s experienced starters the previous two days.
Jack Hannahan’s two-run double highlighted a five-run fourth inning, Dana Eveland won for the first time in three starts and the Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the Royals with a 7-1 victory Sunday.
“It was scrappy,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “I think there are some home runs coming. We definitely have some power in this lineup, it just hasn’t shown yet. It’s nice to have a consistent attack when you don’t have the longball. … We’ve been doing a lot of things right.”
Rob Bowen, Chris Denorfia and Mark Ellis all hit RBI singles in the fourth off Hochevar as the A’s batted around, and Bowen singled in another run in the fifth. Bobby Crosby went 3-for-4 with an RBI in his third straight multihit game and Oakland bounced back from its first three-game skid of the season.
Kansas City managed just three hits and had 15 in the series to Oakland’s 42. The Royals were outscored 26-8.
Oakland improved to 12-8 for its best record through 20 games since starting 13-7 in 1992.
The A’s won despite striking out 12 times, their most strikeouts in a nine-inning victory since 2004. Oakland ended a stretch of 12 games with at least one error—the club’s longest such streak since also having 12 in a row from Sept. 20-Oct. 1, 1985.
The A’s have only seven home runs and are still finding ways to win.
“We’re coming together,” said Crosby, who’s batting .313 and went 8-for-13 in this series to raise his average from .254. “It’s not one guy driving in all the runs. We’re getting guys on and it’s a complete team deal.”
Hochevar (0-1), the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and opening day starter at Triple-A Omaha this year, looked strong in his first start of the season before running into trouble in the fourth. He threw 32 pitches that inning but was sent out to start the fifth.
After strikeouts of Jack Cust and Crosby, Ryan Sweeney doubled and Bowen’s single two batters later chased Hochevar. The right-hander allowed six runs and nine hits, struck out five and walked three in 4 2-3 innings.
“They had a little luck mixed in. Sometimes that’s what it takes,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “We didn’t have much of that at all. We weren’t as selective as we need to be, especially against a pitcher like Dana. He pitched very effectively. It just snowballed on us and was a bad series. There’s no other way to say it.”
The Royals called up Hochevar to make his second career big league start, clearing roster room by designating right-hander Hideo Nomo for assignment and perhaps ending his 12-year major league career.
Hochevar escaped trouble in the second. He allowed a leadoff walk followed by Crosby’s single, but the 24-year-old calmly retired the next three batters he faced—striking out Denorfia and Bowen back-to-back to end the inning.
All of Oakland’s runs came with two outs.
“That’s the cost of doing business, I guess. You give up a hit with two outs, I’m not going to back down,” Hochevar said. “I’m not going to try to start nibbling. I’m going to stay aggressive and keep attacking them.”
Eveland (2-1) lowered his ERA to 1.90, allowing a run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked a season-high four batters. Despite the low ERA, Eveland had been winless in two outings since beating Cleveland at home on April 5.
Eveland wasn’t satisfied with his day, namely four walks and not getting through the sixth inning.
“I want to pitch in the seventh and eighth innings,” he said. “To not make it through six is unacceptable for me. It doesn’t work.”
Oakland’s Mike Sweeney, who played his first 13 major league seasons with the Royals, missed the entire series against his old team with a sore knee.
Kansas City was the lone AL team to play the entire last week on the road. … Royals CF David DeJesus was held out of the lineup for the second time in three days. He jammed his left big toe Thursday at Anaheim. … The A’s placed RHP Keith Foulke on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 11, with neck stiffness. … Oakland RHP Justin Duchscherer, nursing a strained biceps muscle, is scheduled to pitch in a rehab outing Monday for Triple-A Sacramento in Las Vegas. If all goes well, he could be activated and rejoin the A’s rotation to start Saturday in Seattle.