OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Jose Guillen hardly feels 100 percent, moving gingerly in the outfield and feeling his sore groin at the plate.
He still found enough strength to hit his first home run in more than a month and Alex Gordon also had a two-run homer Monday night to help Zack Greinke to his first win in July, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 4-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“Muy malo”—very bad, he said in Spanish of his injury. “I’m just trying to do my best. It’s not easy but sometimes when you’re trying to help your team win, it doesn’t matter.”
Greinke struck out a career-high 11 in 7 1-3 innings and Kansas City earned its first win in four tries this year against the A’s after being swept in the Coliseum from April 18-20. The Royals ended a four-game skid overall to Oakland and have won 10 of their last 17 here.
Guillen hit a two-run drive in the first inning for his 14th of the season and first since June 23, Greinke won for the first time since June 24, and Gordon’s 12th homer of 2008 was his first since July 1. The ball seemed to carry nicely on a cool, dreary night in the Bay Area. First-pitch temperature was just 57 degrees.
Guillen returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s victory over Tampa Bay because of a left groin injury that he aggravated Saturday night. Manager Trey Hillman opted to give Guillen more rest Monday night, too. He was replaced in right field in the middle of the seventh, with Mitch Maier coming in to play center and David DeJesus moving to right for Guillen.
Gordon also had a pair of singles for Kansas City, his first three-hit game since May 28.
“Three-hit day for Alex,” Hillman said. “He looked much better at the plate. The ball got off the bat much better.”
Greinke (8-7) ended a five-start winless stretch in which he’d gone 0-3 since beating Colorado, when he struck out 10 and didn’t walk a batter. He also lost his first two starts after the All-Star break. The right-hander was done after allowing Ryan Sweeney’s one-out RBI single in the eighth.
“A lot of these guys I didn’t even know who they were. They just got called up,” Greinke said. “It’s a lot tougher for young hitters than it is for young pitchers in my opinion.”
His 11 Ks were the most by a Royals pitcher since Blake Stein fanned 11 on June 17, 2001, in 5 1-3 innings at Milwaukee.
“I’ve been doing that a lot lately—more than usual,” Greinke said of his strikeouts. “Some were good pitches and some of those pitches weren’t good strikeout pitches. … Maybe this will give me a little confidence.”
Joakim Soria recorded the final three outs for his 28th save in 30 chances— matching the most saves ever in a single season for a Mexican-born pitcher. Juan Acevedo also had 28 for Detroit in 2002.
Dallas Braden (2-1) struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings but didn’t do enough in his second start of the year to help the A’s get back on track after the All-Star break. Oakland, which traded away talented starters Rich Harden and Joe Blanton earlier this month, fell to 2-8 since the break—worst in the majors. The A’s starting pitchers are 1-6 in 11 games since the break.
Oakland snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday with a 6-5 win over Texas, but has dropped 10 of its last 12 games overall. Kurt Suzuki had three hits, including two infield singles.
“We’ve definitely seen some good pitching since the All-Star break, no doubt,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Greinke was 94 to 96 and he hit 97 with real good control tonight. He had two breaking balls going. It was a pretty dominant performance on his behalf.”
Jack Cust struck out three times for the A’s, increasing his AL lead to 134.
Injured A’s DH Frank Thomas, recovering from a strained right quadriceps muscle, ran the bases for the fourth straight day and is encouraged by his progress and increase in intensity. “I ran like a track star,” Thomas joked. “Running is becoming easy. I ran straight and first to third. I’m fine. That was a very big hurdle. That mental hesitation is gone.” Thomas was scheduled to hit in a simulated game Tuesday against injured RHP Keith Foulke. Foulke likely will leave on a rehab assignment in the coming days. … Oakland’s other ailing DH, Mike Sweeney, could begin a rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento as soon as Friday. He is recovering from surgery on both knees.