KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS / AP) — Jemile Weeks managed to get a ground ball past Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer for a leadoff double Friday night, and for a fleeting moment it seemed as if the Oakland Athletics might emerge from their offensive funk.
Then their next eight hitters went down with a whimper.
Felipe Paulino sliced through their lineup with cruel efficiency, and the Kansas City bullpen handled the final three innings, dooming Oakland to a 2-0 defeat and its ninth straight loss.
The losing streak is the longest for the Athletics since last May and June, and six times in their last 16 games they’ve been shut out. Their 10 shutouts overall are most in the majors.
“It’s pretty much the same story offensively. We’re having some struggles,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “No matter what you’re doing, you’re always trying to find things to do to better yourself. We’re just having trouble doing it.”
That goes without saying.
Oakland has been outscored 39-12 during its current losing streak, and came into the night ranked last in the majors in batting average (.210) and slugging percentage (.338), and second-to-last in on-base percentage and runs.
Even when the Athletics got runners on base, they didn’t get anything to show for it.
Weeks was cut down trying to steal third with two aboard and two out in the third inning, and Yoenis Cespedes was picked off when he wandered too far from first base in the fourth.
“Those were all big outs for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Yuniesky Betancourt came off the disabled list to provide an RBI double in the first, and Mike Moustakas added an RBI blooper to left later in the inning, providing the only runs in the game. Still, it was enough for the Royals to win for the sixth time in 23 home games.
Paulino (3-1) has emerged as the ace of the Royals’ haphazard starting rotation, holding the opposition off the scoreboard through six innings for the fourth time in six starts.
He allowed three hits against Oakland while striking out five and walking three.
“Everything is going good for me,” Paulino said. “I got in a couple of situations in the third and fourth, but I tried to put up zeroes and I did that.”
Both of the Royals’ runs were charged to Bartolo Colon (4-6), who recovered from a sloppy start to last seven innings—an encouraging outing after going 1-3 with a 7.92 ERA in May.
“A veteran like him doesn’t let a couple of runs early on fluster him,” Melvin said. “He just puts that aside and goes out and pitches the game.”
The Royals nearly added to their first-inning cushion, but Alcides Escobar grounded out to leave two runners aboard in the first. Kansas City also left a runner in scoring position in the second inning before failing twice to plate a run with the bases loaded in the third.
Colon was brilliant over the next four innings, allowing only a two-out single by Escobar in the sixth and a leadoff single by Humberto Quintero in the seventh.
The problem for Oakland was that Paulino was just as good.
The right-hander wasn’t particularly efficient, burning through
94 pitches in six innings, yet he managed to keep a struggling Oakland lineup off balance all night.
Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save.
“I don’t think anybody is too happy where we are right now,” said Oakland first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, who was 0 for 3. “I think we all know it’s going to pass and we’ll get out of it.”
Notes: Cespedes (strained left hand) came off the DL to go 0 for 4. … Betancourt (right ankle sprain) went 1 for 4 in his return from the DL. INF Irving Falu was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to clear space for him. … Royals LHP Everett Teaford (lower abdominal strain) said he felt good after throwing BP. He plans to throw a bullpen session Monday before a rehab assignment. … Brandon McCarthy will start for Oakland on Saturday against the Royals’ Luke Hochevar.
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