Oakland, Calif The Oakland Athletics, who have built a major league best 17-4 record in June thanks to an explosive offense, turned to pitching on Sunday to win their eighth consecutive series.
Mark Mulder held Kansas City to one run and four hits in seven innings, and the A's defeated the Royals, 4-3, to win for the 10th time in 11 games.
"You're not going to score 10 runs every game. When the hitters cool off, then the pitchers have to step up," Mulder said. "This is good for us."
Oakland won two out of three games in the weekend series against Kansas City. The eight straight series wins mark the second-longest such streak in Oakland history. The only longer streak was when the A's won their final 11 series in 1988.
Mulder (5-2), a rookie left-hander who has won his last three decisions, allowed only an RBI single by Jermaine Dye in the first, doubles by Joe Randa and Brian Johnson and an infield single by Dye in the sixth.
"I felt like it was his best performance for us," A's manager Art Howe said. "He was very aggressive and it paid off. It was just what we needed."
Kansas City designated hitter Mike Sweeney came into the game hitting .352, but went 0-for-2 against Mulder.
"He was very impressive. He mixed his pitches well, in and out, hard and soft," Sweeney said. "We were too aggressive against him, we tried to do too much and he exploited it."
Dye had a run-scoring groundout as the Royals scored two in the eighth off Jeff Tam to make it 4-3. Mark Quinn added an RBI single, and only shortstop Miguel Tejada's leaping grab of a bases-loaded liner by pinch-hitter Greg Zaun kept the Royals from tying the game.
"Tejada's was the key play," Royals manager Tony Muser said. "We don't use the word frustrating around here, but it's always disappointing when you lose."
Jason Isringhausen got the final four outs for his 18th save in 21 opportunities. Isringhausen has converted his last 12 saves after blowing three saves in a four-game span in early May.
Tejada drove in two runs for the A's with an RBI single in the second and a run-scoring groundout in the fourth. Oakland scored three in the second, with Eric Chavez adding an RBI infield single and another run scoring on a double play.
The win kept the A's a half-game ahead of Seattle atop the AL West. The Mariners won 4-2 over Baltimore on Sunday, their sixth straight win, to keep pace with Oakland.
"I said it's going to be a dogfight all the way," Howe said. "I like to be in front rather than chasing."
Jeff Suppan (2-6), who is 0-4 on the road this season, allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings. The Royals have lost 10 of 13.
"He pitched OK," Muser said, "but he got outpitched and he didn't win."
Notes: Suppan had four straight no-decisions heading into the game. ... Suppan, who has allowed an AL-high 22 home runs this season, did not allow any Sunday. ... Suppan became the first Royals pitcher with 100 innings this season, raising his total to 103 with Sunday's outing. ... Oakland's Terrence Long extended his hitting streak to 14 games, tying the longest by an AL rookie this season, with a bloop single in the seventh. ... Jason Giambi went 2-for-3 with a walk for Oakland, raising his average to .343. He is hitting .569 (29-for-51) with 23 walks in his past 15 games.