Kansas City, Mo. Once things started to go wrong for the Royals on Saturday, everything seemed to go wrong.
Struggling starter Luke Hochevar was lit up again. Three errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball each played a part in runs for Oakland. Even when Kansas City appeared to get someone across the plate, the run was wiped out by a phantom tag by the A’s catcher.
The result was a 9-3 defeat that snapped the Athletics’ nine-game losing streak.
“It was sloppy all the way around,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We just didn’t pitch good. We had some opportunities to score some runs and we didn’t capitalize on it. We made some errors that ended up hurting us in the scoring department for them.
“It was just one of those days that wasn’t very good.”
Brandon McCarthy (4-3) came off the disabled list to throw six innings for Oakland. Jemile Weeks reached base four times and Josh Reddick had a two-run triple during a four-run fifth, which broke open a close game and helped the A’s surpass their run total from the six previous games.
One of the worst offenses in baseball hardly looked like it against Hochevar (3-6), who has become something of a salve for scuffling attacks. The former first overall draft pick allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings, the sixth time he’s failed to get past the fifth this season.
Hochevar now has a 6.63 ERA, among the worst in the majors.
“The fact of the matter is I didn’t get it done,” he said. “We scored enough runs to win. We got it done in other places. It just falls on me.”
McCarthy picked up where he left off when he went on the DL with a strained right shoulder, working out of trouble whenever it presented itself. The A’s right-hander matched a career high with his fourth straight win, and hasn’t lost since April 21 against Cleveland.
“I was happy I was able to get that deep in the game,” said McCarthy, who was unaware that manager Bob Melvin had put an 80-pitch limit on him. He wound up throwing 71.
“I was hoping for five innings and he gave us six,” Melvin said. “That’s what he does.”
Eric Hosmer, Jeff Francoeur and Yuniesky Betancourt each drove in a run for the Royals, but it was the run that they didn’t score that really incensed Yost.
Francoeur tagged up from third base on a flyball in the sixth inning, and leaped over a swiping tag by A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki. Replays showed Suzuki missing by a wide margin, and he started after Francoeur to apply the tag again when plate umpire Paul Schrieber signaled out.
Francoeur and Yost both argued to no avail.
Yost grew more animated with Schrieber the next half inning when the umpire got into an argument with Royals catcher Humberto Quintero in the middle of an at-bat. Schrieber tossed him from the game for arguing balls and strikes, bringing the Royals’ manager out to argue again.
“For me to sit here and talk about an umpire’s call — have you seen the replay?” he said. “It would have helped us get another run and maybe helped us gain some momentum, but it just wasn’t the case. We didn’t have a good day today and I’ll stick with that.”
After scoring 12 runs total during their nine-game skid, the Athletics put one on the board in the first inning on Weeks’ leadoff triple and an RBI groundout by Collin Cowgill.
It was the first run scored by the A’s in 19 innings.
The Royals matched it on Francoeur’s two-out single later in the first, but Oakland pulled back ahead in the fourth. Yoenis Cespedes led off with a double, went to third when center fielder Jarrod Dyson bobbled the ball, and scored when Hochevar unfurled a wild pitch.
Oakland piled on in the sixth, starting with Reddick’s two-run triple.
Cespedes added a run-scoring single, and after Hochevar was finally lifted — receiving a chorus of boos and some sarcastic cheering en route to the dugout — Kila Ka’aihue met reliever Tim Collins with an RBI double to right field, giving the A’s a 6-1 lead.
The Royals tacked on runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but Oakland added three more in the eighth after errors by Betancourt and Alcides Escobar, helping the Athletics wrap up a win.
“We were just in a rut,” Ka’aihue said. “Everybody goes through it, individually and as a team. We know it’s a long season. We have a lot more times to do this.”
Notes: Weeks extended his season-best hitting streak to nine games. ... Quintero’s ejection was the first of his career. ... The Royals’ Alex Gordon has broken four bats during the first two games of the series. ... Royals RHP Vin Mazzaro will make his first start against his former team Sunday. LHP Tommy Milone starts for Oakland.