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Greinke, Royals can't hold four-run lead in 6-5 loss to A's

OAKLAND, Calif. | So this is what happens to the Royals when Zack Greinke, like Brian Bannister, isn’t in top form. Other flaws get exposed and, right now, the Royals don’t have enough to overcome them.

The Royals blew a four-run lead Saturday in a depressing 6-5 loss to the Oakland A’s at McAfee Coliseum. They are now back to .500, for the first time since winning their season opener, after suffering a third straight loss and falling to 9-9.

The A’s broke a 4-4- tie on Kurt Suzuki’s RBI single in the seventh against reliever Joel Peralta. Oakland added another run later in the inning and can now sweep the three-game series with a victory in Sunday’s finale.

The worst part, for the Royals, is everything started so well in their effort to rebound from Friday’s 13-2 shellacking.

Greinke had a 3-0 lead before he threw a pitch because of José Guillen’s first homer as a Royal.

David DeJesus, back in the lineup, opened the game with a single. He was erased on Mark Teahen’s fielder’s-choice grounder before Billy Butler lined a two-out single into center.

Guillen then rammed an 0-1 offering from A’s lefty Greg Smith into the elevated left-field seats above the American League scoreboard.

The Royals extended their lead to 4-0 on Miguel Olivo’s leadoff homer in the second. Olivo’s looping drive stayed just fair down the left-field line and came after A’s first baseman Daric Barton dropped a foul pop for an error.

Greinke and a 4-0 lead? Pretty sweet, right?

It turned sour in a hurry, much like things did Friday for Bannister, who carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth before the A’s gathered themselves.

Oakland scored three times against Greinke in the fifth, aided by some shaky defense, before pulling even on Ryan Sweeney’s RBI single in the sixth against Ramon Ramirez, who had not allowed a run in his six previous appearances.

Jimmy Gobble surrendered an RBI triple to Barton in the seventh after replacing Peralta, who got the loss.

The Royals went into another of their extended offensive slumbers after their early muscle flex. They managed just two singles after Olivo’s homer until the ninth.

Joey Devine, 2-0, got the victory after pitching two innings in relief of Smith. Alan Embry and Huston Street closed out the victory. Street gave up one run in the ninth but stranded the tying run at first for his fifth save in six opportunities.

The A’s finished with 16 hits after getting 15 in Friday’s rout. Every starter had at least one hit. Barton had a single, double and a triple after strikeouts in his first two at-bats against Greinke. Emil Brown went two for five with a run and an RBI.

Greinke escaped a bases-loaded threat in the second -- two infield singles and walk -- by retiring Suzuki on a routine fly to center. Greinke stranded two more runners in the third.

It was taking a toll, though. Greinke entered the fourth having thrown 58 pitches.

The A’s finally broke through in the fifth when the Royals betrayed Greinke with some shaky defense. Barton’s catchable fly to deep center eluded DeJesus for a leadoff double. Mark Ellis walked, but Greinke retired Jack Cust on a pop before Brown punched an RBI single into center.

Greinke should have been out of the inning when he got Ryan Sweeney to hit a potential double-play grounder to short. Instead, Tony Peña booted the ball for a run-scoring error.

Bobby Crosby followed with a single through the left side, and the lead was down to 4-3. Greinke escaped further damage, but that was it. He was done, having thrown 100 pitches in his five innings.

The A’s then feasted on the Royals’ bullpen, just as they did Friday after Bannister exited. The bullpen has allowed 11 runs and 14 hits in six innings in the last two games. The unit’s ERA has jumped from 2.25 to 4.11.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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