A's Milone, Balfour control Royals

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tommy Milone got the victory and Grant Balfour tied a legend.

Milone pitched a gem for eight innings but needed help from Balfour to finish the Oakland Athletics' 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

Milone limited the Royals to two singles in eight innings before giving up four consecutive hits and three runs in the ninth.

He was replaced by Balfour, who got the final two outs for his 22nd save in as many opportunities. Balfour is perfect in his past 40 save chances, tying Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for the club record set in 1991-92.

"Obviously, the guy had a great career," Balfour said. "I can only speak highly of him. If I can have half the career he had, I would walk away a happy man. I commend him for what he did. We look up and see his name and number before taking the field every day (at home).

"It's an accomplishment, but I don't like to look at it too much. I'm superstitious. It's not something I set out to do. It just happened. There's still a lot of work to do and I just want to help the team win. I have to come in and bear down and make pitches. Tommy threw a great game again. It put me in a position to get it."

The A's have won seven of nine to move a season-best 15 games above .500.

Milone, a 26-year-old left-hander, had allowed 14 runs and 21 hits, including five home runs, in 16 innings in his previous three starts. He had permitted at least one home run in his previous eight starts.

Milone (8-7), however, baffled the Royals until the ninth, retiring the first 10 batters. Eric Hosmer, who extended his hitting streak to seven games, singled with two outs in the fifth for the Royals' first base runner.

"That's pretty remarkable," Milone said of Balfour's streak. "But when you look at Grant, it's not surprising what he's able to do. That's pretty cool for him. I'm happy."

The Royals did not get a runner past first base until the ninth when they scored three runs. David Lough and Alcides Escobar hit back-to-back doubles for the first run. Hosmer singled up the middle to bring home Escobar. Billy Butler's single finished Milone.

"He had one of the best changeups I've seen," Butler said. "It had great action on it. The bottom was falling out. He was throwing it for strikes.

"He was throwing it in a shoebox. He was hitting every spot. He had a great cutter, just going in and out. He was doing what he needed to do. It was his night."

Balfour yielded a run-producing single to Salvador Perez before retiring Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas to protect the lead.

"Milone was really on top of his game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He can command his fastball to both sides of the plate, but when that changeup is on, it's almost unhittable.

"He very seldom hangs it. He's got great arm speed, so when he throws it, it looks like a fastball and it just dies on you. It just creates real problems for your timing at the plate. We're out front, tapping it and popping it up. We really couldn't get anything going the first eight innings. We finally put together an attack in the ninth inning, but by then the game was out of hand a little bit."

Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp led the A's offense. Reddick contributed a double, triple, sacrifice fly and two RBIs. Crisp drove in three runs, including a two-run, two-out single in the three-run ninth as Oakland padded its lead.

A Lorenzo Cain ninth-inning error on Riddick's liner to right made two of the runs unearned.

"It kind of tailed away from me, had a lot of topspin on it," Cain said. "I just flat out missed it. I've got to make the play. I made it a hundred times. It was the difference in the ballgame.

"I was going to catch it and fire it into home plate. I knew the guy was tagging, but I didn't catch the ball. I took my eye off of it. That can't happen."

Royals right-hander Wade Davis (4-7) went seven innings and allowed three runs and six hits while striking out eight and walking one.

Milone retired the first 11 batters he faced before Hosmer laced a single to center with out in the fourth. Hosmer was the Royals' lone base runner the first five innings.

Josh Reddick doubled to left with one out in the third and scored on Eric Sogard's single to shallow left for the first Oakland run. Reddick and Sogard were each hitless in their previous nine at-bats.

The A's added two runs in the fifth when John Jaso led off with a walk. Reddick's triple to right center scored Jaso. Reddick scored on Crisp's fly out to left.

NOTES: LF Alex Gordon has received clearance from the Royals' medical staff after he did well on tests for a possible concussion. He must be cleared by an independent doctor assigned by Major League Baseball before playing, however. Gordon, who was injured Wednesday when running into the fence attempting to make a catch against Cleveland, also has a badly bruised hip. ... The A's are 16-18 in day games while hitting just .240. Their next two games are afternoon games at Kauffman Stadium. ... Reddick has reached base in a career-best 14 consecutive games by a hit or walk.
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