The Oakland Athletics avoided a late inning comeback thanks to a record-tying save from Grant Balfour, and Tommy Milone went 8.1 innings and was unhittable for much of the game as the A’s offense made the most of a few early opportunities against Wade Davis, going on to win by a final score of 6-3.
Davis struck out eight Oakland batters, but the A’s were able to touch him up for six hits over seven innings, and Josh Reddick provided some spark in the bottom of the order as he was involved in the first three scores and went 2-for-3 on the night with two extra-base hits.
Neither pitcher allowed a baserunner through the first two innings, but Reddick hit a line drive to left field and legged out a double with one out in the top of the third. Eric Sogard brought him home on a blooper to left field, and although the ball dropped right in front of David Lough, the outfielder couldn’t provide a good throw to prevent a charging Reddick from scoring, and the A’s took a 1-0 lead.
Milone allowed his first hit of the game in the fourth — a two-out single to Eric Hosmer — but he got Billy Butler to ground into the force at second in the following at-bat, and he headed to the dugout having thrown only 42 pitches through the first four innings.
Reddick accounted for another couple Oakland runs in the fifth. John Jaso led off the inning with a leadoff walk, and then the A’s right fielder hit a curveball perfectly into the gap in right-center, and it would roll all the way to the wall as Jaso scored and Reddick slid into third with his second triple of the season.
He’d score later on a sacrifice fly to left by Coco Crisp, and it was another example of Reddick’s speed prevailing over Lough’s arm as Mike Gallego showed no hesitation in sending him home, and the result was the A’s taking a 3-0 advantage.
From there, Milone took over, shutting down the Royals’ offense, allowing only two hits through eight innings. He finished with four strikeouts and no walks, throwing only 101 pitches in the process.
Oakland added some insurance in the top of the ninth. After Brandon Moss singled and stole second and Jaso singled to right, Reddick contributed to his third run of the game when Lorenzo Cain dropped an easy line drive off his bat, allowing Moss to score and Jaso to reach third. Cain was charged with an error, but it was ruled a sacrifice fly, giving Reddick his second RBI of the night.
Following a pop fly by Sogard for the second out, Crisp hit a grounder up the middle to score Jaso and Reddick to give the A’s a 6-0 lead before Seth Smith popped out to end the inning.
Those runs came in handy as Milone faded a bit in the ninth. After retiring Jarrod Dyson for the first out, Lough hit a line drive to left that he stretched to a double, just beating out Yoenis Cespedes’ throw for the third Kansas City hit of the night. Alcides Escobar followed it up with a double of his own, putting the Royals on the board and breaking up Milone’s bid for a shutout.
When Hosmer hit a single up the middle to score Escobar, the rally was on. Butler hit a single to left field in the next at-bat, and Grant Balfour was brought in to try to convert his 22nd save of the year as Milone had to watch the end of the game from the dugout.
Balfour immediately gave up a single up the middle to Salvador Perez, scoring Hosmer from second to make it 6-3. That left two men on with one out for Cain, who hit a grounder to Josh Donaldson. Donaldson threw to Sogard and second, but they couldn’t get the double play as Cain beat out Sogard’s throw to first, and Mike Moustakas came to the plate with the tying runs on first and third.
Balfour was able to get Moustakas to ground out to second and earn his 40th save in a row dating back to 2012, which tied him with Dennis Eckersley for the most consecutive saves in franchise history. Milone earned his eighth win of the year, and the A’s pulled out their seventh win in nine games, putting them a season-high 15 games over .500.
It was an impressive win all around as the offense matched the effort of the pitching staff, and in addition to Milone’s recovery after a string of tough starts, it was a welcome sight to see Reddick, a key contributor on last year’s playoff squad, snap an 0-for-9 streak at the plate and get some good at-bats against a quality starter.
The two teams will face off again tomorrow, with Jarrod Parker taking on right-hander Ervin Santana for an 11:10 start.