Guillen’s sacrifice fly lifts Royals past A’s
Guillen, who a day earlier had to shoot down rumors that he was unhappy and wanted out of Kansas City, drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning and the Royals beat the Athletics 4-3 Wednesday to complete their first three-game sweep in Oakland in 20 years.
“That inning I thought Trey was going to take me out because I could barely walk,” said Guillen, who went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. “When I came in I was sitting there and I was really sore. He said, ‘Do you want me to put Dave (DeJesus) in for defense?’ I told him let’s get one more and try to win this one.”
The Royals last swept the A’s in a series in 1999 in Kansas City, but had not done so in Oakland since June 14-16, 1988.
It took some doing.
Kansas City’s defense had trouble early, allowing a pair of short pop-ups— including one in front of the pitcher’s mound—to fall in for base hits. The Royals also hit into three double plays with the go-ahead run at second base and the bullpen blew a win for hard-luck starter Brian Bannister.
Despite all of that, Kansas City managed to hold on for its fourth straight win overall and its fifth consecutive on the road.
“It’s nice to be on the positive end of some history,” Hillman said. “It’s not good when you see pop-ups dropping but we won the game.”
The slumping A’s fell to 2-10 since the All-Star break, the worst record in the majors, and fell under .500 for the first time since April 6.
Esteban German led off the 10th with a pinch-hit walk against A’s closer Huston Street, then took third when Mike Aviles doubled just beyond the glove of diving right fielder Ryan Sweeney. After an out and an intentional walk of Alex Gordon, Guillen’s fly to center field scored German.
Afterward Guillen limped through the Royals’ locker room, smiling but sore.
On Tuesday he held an impromptu press conference in front of his locker to shoot down ESPN reports that he had asked out of Kansas City and that the slugger and Hillman were not speaking. A day later, Guillen reiterated his feelings.
“Unfortunately some people come up and say some negative stuff,” Guillen said. “We don’t agree on everything we say but he’s the manager, he’s the boss and I have to do what he says. The good thing is that everything is fine between me and my manager.”
Bannister gave up eight hits, walked four and pitched in and out of trouble in his five innings. He matched his career high of seven strikeouts and was in position to win for the first time in more than a month, but Kansas City’s bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.
A’s starter Sean Gallagher didn’t fare much better. He scattered five hits over five innings and struck out four, but was tagged for two runs in the third and gave up another in the sixth on Guillen’s RBI single that gave the Royals a 3-2 lead.
Oakland took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles from Bobby Crosby and Ryan Sweeney in the second but managed little else. The A’s stranded 15 runners, matching their season-high.
“We had a lot of baserunners and we were doing things at the plate we haven’t done lately,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “We didn’t get the big hit. One hit here or there and it could be a different ballgame.”
The Athletics then tied the game in the seventh on another RBI single by Crosby.
The Royals threatened in the eighth and ninth, getting a runner to second base with less than two outs but failed to move him over. They finally capitalized in the 10th off Street (2-4).
Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler pitched three shutout innings to extend his major league record for scoreless innings to start a career. The righty has not allowed a run in 30 innings since being called up from the minors on May 30, smashing the previous mark of 25 set by Philadelphia’s George McQuillan in 1907.
Ziegler got plenty of help from the A’s defense, which turned three inning-ending double plays behind him. The streak is the second-longest scoreless streak by a reliever in Oakland history.
After the game the A’s optioned IF Wes Bankston and IF/OF Eric Patterson to Triple-A Sacramento. The moves were made in part to clear room for DH Frank Thomas, who is expected to be activated from the DL on Friday in time for the team’s trip to Boston. Thomas, out since May 29 with right quadriceps tendinitis, faced reliever Keith Foulke in a simulated game Wednesday and afterward declared himself ready. … Gordon drew five walks in all, two intentional, to set a franchise single-game record. … Oakland’s Mark Ellis played in his 721st game at second base for the A’s, matching Dick Green’s team record.