Kouzmanoff keys A’s win over Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Maybe it’s time for Oakland to find a place for Adam Rosales and just let him stay there.
The do-everything Rosales, who has started at five different positions this year, played a flawless second base and had three hits Saturday night, including the tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth in a 6-5 victory over Kansas City.
“There’s a guy in scoring position, late in the game, I’m doing my best to get a good pitch, to put the barrel on the ball and square it up,” said Rosales, who also had two RBIs and scored a run. “That’s all I was thinking, get a good pitch to hit.”
Rosales has started only eight of the last 20 games, but is one of only two A’s players in the past 11 years to start at five positions.
“In my mind, I’m in there every day. That’s how you’ve got to approach it,” he said. “Even if I’m not in the lineup, I do things to prepare. The opportunity is always there.”
Kevin Kouzmanoff had three RBIs for the A’s, who will go for a three-game sweep Sunday.
Kurt Suzuki doubled with one out against Joakim Soria (0-2), who started the ninth. With two outs, Rosales delivered the winner up the middle against Kansas City’s All-Star closer and major league saves leader.
Andrew Bailey, Oakland’s All-Star closer, struck out Jason Kendall with the potential tying run on third in the bottom of the ninth for his 19th save in 22 opportunities.
“(Soria’s) been pitching great for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He has a nice run of saves going. It happens. He’s not a machine. He’s not a robot. It happens to everybody, you give up a run now and then.”
Craig Breslow (4-2) pitched one inning for the victory as the A’s won their fourth in a row and caused the Royals to waste Yuniesky Betancourt’s grand slam in the second off Trevor Cahill. The shot gave KC a 5-3 lead and was Betancourt’s third career grand slam and second this year.
“I was waiting for a sinker because I thought that was his game plan, to try to get me to roll over to the third baseman and try to get a double play,” Betancourt said through a translator.
Cahill, making his first start since being named to the AL All-Star team, loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before Betancourt, the No. 9 hitter, knocked a 2-1 pitch 366 feet over the fence in left. It was his third career grand slam and second this year.
“I think he’s a good pitcher, but he made a mistake. He left that ball up and I was able to connect that ball far,” Betancourt said. “I think I got lucky.”
Scott Podsednik tripled on Cahill’s next pitch and put the Royals on top 5-3 on Kendall’s sacrifice fly.
Cahill, 8-1 in his 11 previous starts, retired the next 15 in a row and was relieved by Jerry Blevins with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
In a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup, Blevins retired David DeJesus on a popup. Cahill went 6 2-3 innings and gave up five runs on five hits, with for walks and three strikeouts.
Cliff Pennington had an RBI single in the sixth, chasing Royals starter Bruce Chen, and then the A’s tied it in the seventh when Daric Barton hit his second double and scored on Kouzmanoff’s RBI single off Blake Wood.
Chen gave up five hits and three runs in a shaky first inning, including a two-run double by Kouzmanoff, who has five RBIs in the past two nights against the Royals.
Kouzmanoff scored on an RBI by Rosales, but Chen retired all but two of the next 15 batters until Rosales singled leading off the sixth and eventually scored on Pennington’s RBI single. Chen allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, with one walk and four strikeouts.
“He does a great job, getting in there and playing different positions all the time,” Cahill said of Rosales. “I think everybody likes to see him in the lineup. He did a great job today, getting three hits in key situations. You can’t say enough about it.”
NOTES: A’s manager Bob Geren said he still hadn’t decided whether Dallas Braden would start on Tuesday against Boston. Braden has been on the DL since June 23 with left elbow stiffness. … The defensive play of the night belonged to A’s first baseman Barton, who dived to his left to stop Alberto Callaspo’s smash down the line to end the third. … Royals RHP Gil Meche may make a rehab start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday. Meche has been on the DL and not pitched since May 25 with bursitis of the right shoulder.
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