KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A day after their highest scoring output of the season, the Oakland Athletics had to rely on their pitching to pull out another win.
Fiers and three Oakland relievers combined to shut down the Kansas City Royals and Marcus Semien provided just enough early offense in a 2-1 victory Tuesday night to take a one game lead over Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card spot.
“We had to grind this one out,” Fiers said. “It was one of those games where their pitcher pitched well so you have to tip your cap to them. To keep them to one run is what we needed.”
On Monday night, the A’s beat the Royals 19-4.
Semien had hits in his first two at-bats Tuesday, coming around to score in the first inning and driving in a run in the second. That was all the offense the A’s pitchers needed.
“We score a couple runs early, we look like we got a chance to break it open kind of similar to (Monday) night and it turns out being a completely different game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Close games like that is why you have guys like (Fiers).”
Fiers ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Alex Gordon had an RBI double into the gap in right-center. After striking out Cheslor Cuthbert, a walk to Ryan O’Hearn ended Fiers’ night. Yusmeiro Petit came in and retired the next two batters, striking out Meibrys Viloria, to escape the jam and preserve the 2-1 lead.
“Definitely making some good swings on pitches I thought were located,” Fiers said. “It was tough for me, but I was able to get out of there with one run and we won the game, so I’ll just take that.”
Fiers (13-3) scattered eight hits in his 5 1/3 innings, but allowed just the one run and struck out five batters. He’s now won 11 straight decisions, dating to May 7, tying Mark Mulder for the second-longest winning streak in Oakland history.
“It’s just been a consistent run since then and every game he goes out there we feel like we have a great chance to win and I think that’s what your lead starter does for you,” Melvin said.
Petit retired all five batters he faced. Joakim Soria tossed a scoreless eighth and Liam Hendriks worked the ninth inning for his 16th save in 20 opportunities.
The A’s have won 10 of their last 13 games in Kansas City and 16 out of the last 21 overall, outscoring the Royals 140-62 in that span.
Mike Montgomery (3-7) surrendered an unearned run in the first and another run in the second, but gave up nothing else through 6 1/3 innings. He walked three batters and hit another and has now issued eight walks over his last three starts after walking three total in his first five starts with the Royals.
“He pitched great, gave us every opportunity to win the ballgame,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The A’s didn’t hit the ball out of the infield in the first inning, but still managed to squeeze out a run after Cuthbert’s error extended the inning. A walk to Chad Pinder two batters later drove in Semien.
An inning later, Semien laced an RBI single to right field, scoring Josh Phegley who doubled two pitches earlier.
Whit Merrifield and Gordon both had two-hit nights for the Royals. In the first two games against Oakland, the Royals have piled up 20 hits, but it’s led to just five runs.
BROWN SHOWS OFF DEFENSIVE SKILLS
A day after making his big league debut by getting hits in his first two at-bats, A’s left fielder Seth Brown flashed his defensive abilities. With one out in the bottom of the second, Brown raced towards the left-center gap and made a diving catch to rob Cuthbert of extra bases. In the third inning, Brown threw out Viloria, who was trying to score from second on Merrifield’s single.
“It’s awesome. On defense, that’s what we’re supposed to do and I was just happy I was able to do it,” Brown said.
STATS AND STREAKS
Mark Canha saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end, going 0 for 3. … Soria made his 700th career appearance on the mound, extending his MLB record for a Mexican-born pitcher. … The A’s had a streak of 10 consecutive innings scoring at least one run snapped in the third inning. Oakland scored in the final eight innings of Monday’s game and each of the first two innings on Tuesday. The A’s became the first team since Boston in 2013 to score in 10 consecutive innings. … Nicky Lopez extended his career best hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third inning.
Athletics: Tanner Roark will make his fourth start with Oakland since being traded from Cincinnati at the trade deadline. Roark (8-8) is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in his first three starts for the A’s.
Royals: Jakob Junis (8-12) will look to bounce back from his previous start Friday in Cleveland, when he threw just four innings and gave up four runs and six hits.