OAKLAND, Calif. | An open date awaits the Royals on Monday back in Kansas City. Good thing. They can use the day off to lick their wounds from an abysmal weekend in the picturesque East Bay.
Oakland completed a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon with a 7-1 victory primarily because just-returned Luke Hochevar couldn’t put the brakes on a five-run fourth inning. All five runs scored with two outs.
The Royals have now lost four straight and eight of their last 11. They come limping home with a losing record, at 9-10, after completing a 2-5 road trip that included 1-1 splits in Seattle and Los Angeles before this three-game flop at McAfee Coliseum.
So, yes, the open date comes at a good time before Cleveland and Toronto come to Kauffman Stadium for a pair of three-game series.
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The Royals recalled Hochevar, officially, prior to the game after designating veteran Hideo Nomo for assignment. But Hochevar’s return appeared imminent earlier in the week once John Bale was forced to the disabled list by a fatigued left shoulder.
Hochevar started well and carried a 1-0 lead into the Oakland fourth. A one-out walk to Jack Cust and a single by Bobby Crosby put runners on first and second, but Hochevar struck out Ryan Sweeney.
Then it all went south.
The A’s produced five straight hits. Only one ball was hit hard, but the result was five runs and the Royals, with their attack barely operating at dial-up speed, were all but done.
Oakland lefty Dana Eveland, 2-1, yielded just one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings before A’s bullpen took over. Andrew Brown pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings before Santiago Casilla worked the ninth.
Royals manager Trey Hillman shook up his lineup by starting Alberto Callaspo at short and Esteban German at second in addition to replacing gimpy center fielder David DeJesus with Joey Gathright.
It didn’t help.
The Royals mustered a season-low three hits. They also scored fewer than four runs for the fourth time in five games and the ninth time in 19 games.
Crosby had three singles in leading Oakland’s 11-hit attack. Crosby went eight for 13 in the series with four runs and seven RBIs. Every A’s starter had at least one hit Sunday except Cust, who walked twice.
The A’s earned their sweep by beating Brian Bannister in Friday’s opener and overcoming a 4-0 deficit Saturday against Zack Greinke before bleeding Hochevar with a two-out flood.
Hochevar, 0-1, allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Ron Mahay gave up another run in the sixth.
The A’s scored just seven runs in five games before roughing up the Royals for 26 runs and 42 hits in their weekend sweep.
Hochevar worked a one-two-three first inning and pitched around a two-on, no-out jam in the second by getting a ground out and two strikeouts.
The Royals then scored their only run after John Buck opened the third with a walk. He went to third on Callaspo’s single and scored on Gathright’s double-play grounder. Denorfia and Bowen were Hochevar’s strikeout victims in the second inning but got even with two outs in the fourth. Denorfia tied the game by dribbling an RBI single up the middle before Bowen made it 2-1 with a looping single into short center.
It got worse.
Jack Hannahan sliced a two-run double to left, and Mark Ellis followed with an RBI single to left. That made it 5-1.