September already looks better to the Royals than August.
Billy Butler drove in four runs for the second time in three games Tuesday night and powered the Royals to a 5-2 victory over the Oakland A’s at Kauffman Stadium.
Butler’s three-run homer in the first inning provided run-starved Zack Greinke with an early boost. Butler added an RBI single in the fifth for the game’s final run.
Greinke, 10-9, limited the A’s to two runs and six hits in seven innings while striking out eight and walking one. It was his 19th quality start in 28 outings. He boosted his club-leading strikeout total a career-high 159.
Ramon Ramirez worked a one-two-three eighth before Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his 34th save in 37 opportunities.
Greinke allowed just one earned run in his three previous starts and still ended up with one loss and two no-decisions. His 10th victory extended his career high and matched Gil Meche for the club lead.
It also marked the first time since 1999 that two Royals reached double figures in victories. José Rosado and Jeff Suppan each won 10 that year.
Butler had four RBIs in Saturday’s 13-3 victory at Detroit. That was their last victory in a dreadful 7-20 run through August. Butler finished with three of the Royals’ six hits in extending his hitting streak to eight games and raising his average to .281.
Ryan Shealy also homered after rejoining the club earlier in the day as a September call-up from Class AAA Omaha.
Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez, 1-3, left after throwing 95 pitches in four innings. He allowed just two hits but both left the park and resulted in four runs. The Royals scored their final run on Butler’s RBI single against Santiago Casilla.
Rain forced a 30-minute delay in the game’s first pitch.
The Royals, 58-79, won for just the fifth time in their last 24 games.
Mike Aviles started the three-run first inning by working a one-out walk. He went to third when left fielder Aaron Cunningham muffed José Guillen’s drive to deep left for a two-base error.
Guillen’s fly appeared gone off the bat but died in the heavy air at the track.
Butler followed by tomahawking a three-run homer on the first pitch. It was a high, soaring drive that carried to the top of the left-field fountains. It was Butler’s 10th homer of the season and his third in three games.
The A’s answered with one run in the second when Jack Cust led off with a double and Daric Barton hit a one-out triple. Both hits plugged the right-center gap, and center fielder David DeJesus had trouble corralling Barton’s drive on the soppy warning track.
Greinke stranded Barton at third by striking out Jack Hannahan and Cunningham.
Shealy’s first big-league homer since June 6, 2007 restored the three-run lead. It was a leadoff slice in the fourth that carried 386 feet over the right-field wall.
The A’s immediately got that run back when Barton led off the fifth with a homer that stayed just fair down right-field line. The possible hook was the only question. The drive was high and deep.
Hannahan followed with a single and went to third on Eric Patterson’s one-out double. Again, Greinke stiffened when he had to. The runners held on Rajai Davis’ routine grounder to third, and Greinke ended the inning by retiring Ryan Sweeney on a grounder to short.
Butler’s fourth RBI pushed the lead back to three runs at 5-2 in the fifth inning against Casilla. Aviles grounded a one-out single off the glove of shortstop Bobby Crosby, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a throwing error by catcher Kurt Suzuki.
Casilla hit Guillen with a pitch before Butler lined an RBI single into center.