OAKLAND, Calif. | It was all downhill Tuesday night for the Royals once they moved past the latest bit of José Guillen drama.
Gil Meche continued his resurgence with seven strong innings in a 5-2 victory over the Oakland A’s at McAfee Coliseum. Mike Aviles and John Buck hit homers. Ron Mahay and Joakim Soria closed out the victory.
It was all methodical and blessedly routine after ESPNDesportes.com stirred the pot earlier in the day with a report that Guillen wanted out of Kansas City and was no longer speaking with manager Trey Hillman.
Guillen, Hillman and club officials all denied the report.
Meche finally reached .500 at 9-9 by limiting the A’s to two runs and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two. Meche is 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The Royals had just five hits but did maximum damage. Buck provided the key blow with a three-run homer in the seventh.
Soria achieved a personal milestone when he pitched around a two-out single in the ninth inning for his 29th save in 31 opportunities. Those 29 saves are a major-league record for Mexican-born pitchers. Juan Acevedo had 28 for Detroit in 2002.
Oakland starter Greg Smith, 5-10, allowed just four hits in seven innings but two left the park. The result was five runs.
The Royals, 49-59, have won three straight and improved to 6-6 since returning from the All-Star break. They have an opportunity this afternoon for their first sweep in a road series since June 17-19 at St. Louis.
A sweep would also repay the A’s for a three-game sweep when the teams played here April 18-20. Brian Bannister, 7-9, will oppose Oakland right-hander Sean Gallagher, 1-0, at 2:37 p.m. Central time.
The loss dropped the A’s to .500 at 53-53. They have just two wins in 11 games since the All-Star break.
Neither team scored until the fourth. The Royals didn’t get their first hit until Aviles opened the inning with a triple to deep center. Carlos Gonzalez reached the ball but couldn’t hold it.
Mark Grudzielanek followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left.
The A’s pulled later in the inning after Jack Cust rifled a two-out double into the right-center gap. Mark Ellis followed with an RBI single to center.
The Royals didn’t get another hit until they regained the lead on Aviles’ two-out homer in the sixth. Aviles launched an inside cutter over the left-field wall for his sixth homer of the season.
Buck’s three-run homer came with two outs in the seventh and expanded the lead to 5-1. Guillen led off with a walk, and pinch-runner Mitch Maier raced to third on Alex Gordon’s one-out double.
Mark Teahen hit a weak grounder to first that resulted in Maier being thrown out at the plate, but Buck crushed an 0-1 fastball deep over the left-field wall. Buck has five homers in his last 15 games after hitting just three in his first 59 games.
The A’s got one run back in their seventh after Ellis’ one-out double. Ellis went to third when Jack Hannahan’s high pop fell to short right fell between a retreating Grudzielanek and an oncoming Teahen.
Ellis scored on Bobby Crosby’s high chop back to the mound before Meche walked ex-teammate Emil Brown. Meche ended the inning by retiring Eric Patterson on a pop to short.