Brian Bannister’s worst start in more than two months never gave the Royals much of a chance Friday to string together consecutive home victories for the first time since early July.
Oakland’s five-run fourth inning, which included four two-out runs, amounted to a knockout blow in a 9-4 victory Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
It all came against Bannister, who had compiled a 2.61 ERA over his previous 11 starts before coughing up seven runs to the A’s on seven hits and four walks in just four innings.
“I take all of the blame,” he said. “I just didn’t give us a chance. I didn’t have good command. I didn’t have good life on my pitches. I was just missing badly.
“My arm was dragging a little bit, and I ended up by trying to get more body into it. I was just missing. No excuses. I didn’t make my pitches. I’m a professional, and it’s my job to get ready. It was a bad night.”
The decisive fourth turned the game from 2-1 to 7-1, which proved enough despite shaky efforts from Oakland starter Vic Mazzaro and four relievers. The Royals scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but also squandered loads of opportunities.
Mazzaro, 3-8, broke an eight-game losing streak despite working just five innings while allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks.
Santiago Casilla allowed a run in the sixth before Craig Breslow stranded a runner at third in the seventh. Michael Wuertz pitched around two one-out singles in the eighth. Jeff Gray opened the ninth by surrendering a double to Brayan Peña before closing out the victory.
The Royals out-hit the A’s 14-11 but never produced the big inning. They stranded runners in every inning and were four for 20 with runners in scoring position.
“We tried to chip away,” said DH Mike Jacobs, one of five Royals to collect more than one hit. “We just didn’t have the big inning like they did. Lot of hits. We just didn’t get those big timely hits.
“Obviously, Banny didn’t throw the ball as well as he’s been throwing it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pick him up.”
Bannister fell to 7-8 and saw his ERA jump from 3.59 to 3.97. Even so, the Royals closed to within 7-4 before Oakland scored single runs in the eighth against Robinson Tejeda and the ninth against John Bale.
The Royals lost for the eighth time in 10 games in falling to 42-67. They now trail fourth-place Cleveland by five games in the American League Central in their quest to avoid a fifth last-place finish in six years.
They are also just 4½ games ahead of Washington in the battle for the worst record in baseball -- although that distinction carries the considerable consolation prize of having the top pick next June in the draft.
More numbers: The Royals must go 21-32 or better in their remaining 53 games to avoid a fifth 100-loss season in eight years; and must go 33-20 just to match last season’s 75-87 record.
Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington had three hits, including a pair of doubles against Bannister -- one of which drove in two runs in the fourth.
“I don’t even know who he is,” Bannister said. “I’ve got to figure that one out. That was frustrating. He did a nice job, though. The two pitches he hit were down, and he drove them both to the wall.
“The kid has a good swing. I think he took the place of Orlando Cabrera. I’ll have to spend some more time with him next time.”
Scott Hairston contributed a two-run single to Oakland’s big fourth and an RBI double in the ninth. Ryan Sweeney hit a homer in the eighth.
David DeJesus had three hits for the Royals, who got two apiece from Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Mike Jacobs and Yuniesky Betancourt. DeJesus drove in two runs; Butler is nine for 15 through four games of a six-game homestand.
The Oakland fourth began with a leadoff single by Jack Cust. He reached second on a passed ball and went to third on an infield out before scoring on a wild pitch.
Then it really unraveled.
Tommy Everidge walked and went to second on Mark Ellis’ two-out single. Both scored when Pennington drove a double over Teahen’s head in right. A walk to Adam Kennedy and an infield single by Davis loaded the bases before Hairston squirted a two-run single through the left side.
That quickly, it was 7-1.
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