Baseball

Royals complete sweep with 4-3 victory over A’s in 10 innings

OAKLAND, Calif. | José Guillen was in the middle of things again Wednesday afternoon — only no controversy this time. His sacrifice fly in the 10th inning produced the winning run as the Royals beat the Oakland A’s 4-3 and completed a three-game sweep.

Guillen had an RBI single earlier in the game and also delivered an outfield assist that cut down a runner at the plate.

It made for a nice change after making headlines the two previous days with comments, real and refuted, that created a stir.

Ramon Ramirez, 2-1, got the victory when the Joakim Soria retired the A’s in order in the 10th. The Mexicutioner had saves in all three games and now has 30 saves in 32 opportunities.

Esteban German batted for Tony Peña to open the 10th inning and drew a leadoff walk against A’s closer Huston Street. Mike Aviles followed with a double to right-center that moved German to third.

Mitch Maier fouled out to catcher Kurt Suzuki, who made a terrific sliding catch at the back screen. An intentional walk to Alex Gordon — his fifth walk of the game, a club record — loaded the bases and allowed the A’s to play their infield at double-play depth.

That didn’t matter.

Guillen delivered a sacrifice fly to left for the go-ahead run. Street, 2-4 was the loser.

The Royals’ sweep was their first since June 23-25 against Colorado at Kauffman Stadium. It was their first sweep against an American League opponent since May 13-15 against Detroit.

The Royals, 50-59, have also won four in a row for the first time since a six-game streak from June 21-27.

Still, they didn’t make it easy on themselves.

The Royals ended the sixth, seventh and eighth innings by grounding into double plays. They had two runners aboard in two of those three innings. They also wasted a leadoff single in the ninth before breaking through in the 10th.

Royals starter Brian Bannister scrambled through five tough innings. He matched a career high with seven strikeouts but walked four and allowed eight hits. Even so, Bannister limited the damage to two runs and handed a one-run lead to the bullpen.

The no-decision extended his winless streak to six starts.

Horacio Ramirez retired the first two hitters in the sixth before yielding successive singles. Carlos Gonzalez tried to score from first on Jack Cust’s two-out drive, but second baseman Mike Aviles made a strong throw after taking the relay from Guillen.

Gonzalez was out by several feet.

Leo Nuñez replaced Ramirez after Emil Brown’s leadoff single in the seventh. A passed ball and a one-out walk put runners at first and second.

Bobby Crosby pulled an RBI single through the left side, and the A’s were even at 3-3. Nuñez retired Wes Bankston on a fly to right before manager Trey Hillman summoned Ron Mahay for a lefty-lefty matchup against Ryan Sweeney.

Mahay retired Sweeney on a bouncer to third and got two quick outs in the eighth before exiting after Cust’s two-out single. Pinch-runner Rajai Davis stole second, but Ramon Ramirez struck out Brown.

Ramon Ramirez also worked a scoreless ninth before handing the game to Soria.

Oakland starter Sean Gallagher, acquired July 8 from the Cubs in the Rich Harden deal, allowed three runs and five hits in five-plus innings. Gallagher also got a no-decision.

Submariner Brad Ziegler of Odessa, Mo., High replaced Gallagher and delivered three scoreless innings. That moved Ziegler’s scoreless streak to 30 innings, which extended his Major League record for any pitcher at the start of his career.

Bannister survived a 27-pitch first inning that included two walks by slipping a third strike past Brown.

It was a temporary reprieve.

The A’s opened the second inning with three straight singles, although the third was a bloop to short right field by Crosby that confounded Aviles as he retreated from second base.

The ball fell for an RBI single, although Aviles could have recorded a force out at second with a clean pick-up and throw. Sweeney’s one-out single made it 2-0 before Bannister retired the next two hitters on pop-ups.

The Royals answered immediately with two runs in the third but ran themselves out of the chance for a bigger inning.

Miguel Olivo led off with a double and scored on Aviles’ one-out double. Maier followed with an RBI single but got trapped between first and second on the throw to the plate.

The Royals also botched a pop-up in the fourth when Brown reached safely on a ball that fell between Olivo and Gordon near the mound. Bannister yielded another single but stranded both runners.

Bannister pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, when he walked two more hitters, but that was it. His pitch count stood at 111 when the inning ended.

The Royals knocked out Gallagher in the sixth.

Maier led off with a single to left and went to second when Gordon drew a four-pitch walk. Guillen then pulled a 3-0 offering through the left side for an RBI single that finished Gallagher.

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