OAKLAND, Calif. | Here’s a script the Royals would love to repeat as often as possible in coming years:
José Guillen and Alex Gordon hit two-run homers Monday night in support of a dominating performance by Zack Greinke in a 4-2 victory over the Oakland A’s at McAfee Coliseum.
Throw in an air-tight outing by Ramon Ramirez, who stranded the tying runs after replacing Greinke with one out in the eighth, and a record-tying save by Joakim Soria.
Yes, a good night.
Greinke, 8-7, won for the first time since June 24 by limiting the A’s to two runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out a career-high 11 strikeouts and walked one in a 106-pitch performance.
Guillen returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game because of a sore left groin and hit a first-pitch fastball from Oakland starter Dallas Braden for a two-out homer in the first inning.
That got the Royals rolling.
Gordon’s homer extended the lead to 4-1 in the sixth. Guillen’s homer was his first since June 23; Gordon’s homer was his first since July 1. Gordon also had two singles for his first three-hit game since May 28.
Soria’s save was his 28th in 30 opportunities and enabled him to tie Juan Acevedo for the most saves in a season by a Mexican-born player.
Ramirez was brilliant after entering with runners at first and third with one out in the eighth. He struck out cleanup hitter Jack Cust before retiring Carlos Gonzalez on a grounder to first.
It was still tougher than it had to be. The Royals missed chances to build their lead after putting two runners aboard with one out in the eighth and again in the ninth.
Still, it was good enough for their first victory this season in four games against the A’s, and it kept them from falling past Cleveland into last place in the American League Central Division.
The Royals finished with 11 hits, including three by Mike Aviles and two by Billy Butler.
Greinke allowed a soft run in the fourth but had little trouble until after he opened the eighth by retiring Brooks Conrad for his 11th strikeout. Greinke then issued his first walk, to Eric Patterson, and Kurt Suzuki followed with his third single.
Ryan Sweeney’s single through the right side pulled the A’s to within 4-2 and moved Suzuki to third. Ramirez entered at the point and squelched the threat.
Braden, 2-1, lasted 6 2/3 innings in his second outing since joining the rotation. He allowed four runs and six hits while striking out seven and walking two. Really, the Royals did little against Braden beyond the two homers.
It was enough.
The Royals jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Guillen hit his 14th homer of the season. He returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game because of a sore left groin. He aggravated the injury Saturday while running out an RBI single.
Guillen left the game in the Oakland seventh for a defensive replacement with the Royals leading 4-1. Mitch Maier entered the game in center field, and David DeJesus shifted from center to right.
The A’s got one run back in the fourth by capitalizing on some soft defense. Suzuki led off with a single when Gordon threw high to first after making a fine charging pickup from third.
Greinke retired the next two hitters before Gonzalez pulled a drive into right-center field. Guillen cut the ball off, but his throw skipped past second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, which allowed Suzuki to score from first.
Suzuki was running all the way, so it was scored an RBI double, but a clean relay probably results in a close play at the plate.
The Royals stretched their lead to 4-1 on Gordon’s homer in the sixth, which followed a one-out walk to Butler. Gordon’s homer was his 12th of the season.