OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — Josh Outman allowed four hits over seven innings and the Oakland Athletics gave new manager Bob Melvin his first home victory by beating the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton had RBI singles off starter Luke Hochevar (4-7), who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before it all fell apart.
The scuffling A’s had lost three straight and 13 of 14 in a streak that began under Bob Geren. Melvin improved to 2-4 since taking over for the fired Geren.
Outman (2-1) struck out two and walked two in the deepest outing of his major league career without allowing a run. Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in three chances.
The only noise the Royals made all game came far too late.
Alcides Escobar had three hits, including a double off reliever Brian Fuentes in the eighth, to tie his career high with an eight-game hitting streak. He scored a batter later when Alex Gordon singled to trim Oakland’s lead to 2-1.
Melvin came out for a brief conference with Fuentes, who then allowed Melky Cabrera’s single to put runners on first and third with two outs. Fuentes rallied by getting Eric Hosmer to foul out along the spacious third-base line.
Neither team had many chances in this one.
David DeJesus sent Hochevar’s third pitch of the game off the pitcher’s right elbow, redirecting the ball to second baseman Chris Getz for an easy groundout. Hochevar was inspected by a team trainer and threw a few light tosses before staying in the game.
The hard-throwing right-hander showed no effects from the bruising shot. Hideki Matsui’s two walks were the only time an Oakland player reached base until Landon Powell’s line-drive single to center leading off the sixth.
Then it all came unraveled.
Jemile Weeks followed with a bunt up the first-base line, Hochevar fielded the ball and tossed it to first baseman Eric Hosmer hustling back to the bag. Television replays appeared to show Hosmer tagging Weeks just before he reached the base, but he was called safe by first base umpire Jeff Nelson.
After DeJesus bunted into a fielder’s choice, Weeks stole third base without a throw. Then Pennington drove him in with a single to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.
As bad as the Royals were offensively, Oakland was even better defensively.
Matt Treanor sent a shot off Outman deep to left field in the fourth that seemed headed for the seats. Josh Willingham backpedalled to the wall and leaped up to catch the ball near the top of the wall, robbing Treanor of extra bases and possibly a home run.
Ryan Sweeney provided another big defensive play for the A’s, running down Jeff Francoeur’s soaring shot to deep center in the seventh with a runner on first. Sweeney followed with a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning, and Barton drove him in two batters latter to put Oakland ahead 2-0.
NOTES: Oakland RHP Rich Harden, on the DL since straining a muscle behind his right shoulder early in spring training, threw about 40 pitches in a simulated game before batting practice. He hopes to begin a rehab assignment in the minors as early as next week. … Athletics CF Coco Crisp sat out the game with a sore right heel. He expects to be back in the lineup Thursday. … Royals LHP Bruce Chen (left lat strain) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Omaha on Saturday, and RHP Kyle Davies (right shoulder inflammation) will make a rehab start Saturday for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
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