KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joakim Soria blew another save and the Kansas City Royals’ chances to return to the postseason took another hit.
Pinch hitter Yonder Alonso delivered a two-run double in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics rallied past Kansas City 5-4 Tuesday night.
The defending World Series champion Royals dropped five games out of the wild-card race with only 18 games left.
“That’s a really hard situation to come in to,” Alonso said. “I think early on, I knew I was going to have an opportunity, a meaningful opportunity obviously, with the game on the line to come up with a big at-bat.”
Soria blew his seventh save chance in eight opportunities. He was summoned with two outs in the eighth and the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead.
On his second pitch, Soria gave up a double to Alonso over the head of center fielder Jarrod Dyson, scoring Brett Eibner and pinch runner Joey Wendle.
Soria then yielded an RBI single to Marcus Semien.
“It’s a difficult position when you’re not used to that,” said Soria, who has 203 career saves. “This season has been really, really different to me. I guess in 10 years it can happen sometimes.”
“Unfortunately for me and my team, it happened this year. They need me the most and I’ve been having poor results,” he said.
Rookie Matthew Strahm (2-1), who gave up an infield single to Chad Pinder before Soria replaced him, took the loss.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he did not to use Kelvin Herrera for a four-out save and Wade Davis was unavailable after throwing nearly 50 pitches in back-to-back saves Saturday and Sunday.
“I had confidence in Jack,” Yost said. “I thought it was a good situation for him. I didn’t mind the matchup with Alonso. Jack’s had two days off.”
“Ultimately, it’s my plan. I’m responsible for my plan. And that was my plan and it didn’t work,” he said.
Will he continue to use Soria in those pressure situations?
“I don’t make decisions after games like this,” Yost said. “I haven’t even thought about. I’m not even going to speculate on what I’m going to do, without thinking about it and sleeping on it.”
“Jack’s that guy right now that everybody is on. Jack’s had some really good outings this year and he’s had some poor outings. How do you determine from one day to the next if I put him out there if it’s going to be a good outing or a bad outing? It very easily could have been a good outing. It wasn’t,” he said.
John Axford (6-4) pitched one inning. Ryan Madson balked home Dyson with two outs in the ninth before closing for his 30th save in 36 tries.
Royals starter Danny Duffy, who has not won since Aug. 21, limited the A’s to three hits, but two were home runs, in 7 1-3 innings.
Duffy gave up a home run to Khris Davis on his first pitch in the fifth. Davis has homered in back-to-back games and hiked his season total to 37, which is the most by an Athletics player since Frank Thomas hit 39 in 2006.
Ryon Healy homered to lead off the eighth. After Duffy walked Eibner with one out, he was replaced by Strahm.
Paulo Orlando hit a two-run single in the fourth to score Cheslor Cuthbert, who had doubled, and Alcides Escobar, who reached on Semien’s error.
Semien has committed 11 errors in the past 53 games and tops major league shortstops with 19 fielding miscues.
Escobar’s two-out single in the sixth scored Salvador Perez and chased Jharel Cotton, who was making his second big league start since being acquired in an Aug. 1 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cotton allowed three runs, only one earned, in 5 2-3 innings, while walking one and striking out two.
“I’m just going out there and pitching the way I know how to pitch,” Cotton said. “I’m not trying to do anything special, just go out there and give my team a chance to win every time I get the ball.”