The Royals rallied late but lost 9-8 to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday at Surprise Stadium, falling to 8-10-1 in Cactus League play.
Starting pitcher Danny Duffy was not able to use his slider effectively in a 3 2/3-inning outing. A's leadoff hitter Jorge Mateo took advantage of some fastballs over the plate to hit two of the three home runs Duffy allowed.
"I think if I could go back and redo anything today it would have been just getting fastballs, four-seams, glove-side down in the zone as opposed to leaving them out over," Duffy said. "They went and got a couple of them."
The A's scored seven times off Duffy, then added a run each off relievers Brandon Maurer and Kelvin Herrera, the only two pitchers in camp who are guaranteed to join the Royals bullpen.
The Royals mounted a four-run comeback in the fourth inning and sent nine hitters to the plate in doing so. Cheslor Cuthbert, who led off the inning, was sent to first base after taking a pitch on his right wrist. But he remained in the game until the Royals subbed out starters in the sixth inning.
Cuthbert eventually scored on non-roster invitee Ryan Goins' double to right field. Adalberto Mondesi and Drew Butera also drove in a run each off A's starter Kendall Graveman. Ramon Torres greeted reliever Chris Hatcher with an RBI single to left field. But Hatcher retired the next three batters and stranded two Royals to get out the jam.
Mondesi capped a three-run rally in the ninth when he turned on a 1-2 pitch for a two-out, two-run homer to right field.
The Royals went 6 for 17 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.
The Royals host the Chicago Cubs at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Surprise Stadium.