OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- John Buck ran enough just chasing a foul ball. Jogging around the bases after his home run was much easier.
Buck and Mike Aviles hit home runs, Gil Meche allowed five hits over seven innings and the Kansas City Royals won their fourth consecutive road game, beating the fading Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Tuesday night.Aviles' solo shot in the sixth gave the Royals a 2-1 lead and Buck's three-run homer in the seventh gave them some breathing room. Mark Grudzielanek also drove in a run."We had some slug; two days in a row," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "These guys like hitting here, obviously."With an expansive foul territory to roam, Buck ended the first inning by nabbing Kurt Suzuki's foul ball in front of the Royals' dugout. He managed to remain upright while nimbly navigating the dugout steps."That's the farthest I've went for a foul ball that's for sure," Buck said. "I could hear everybody yell 'Out, out, out,' but I saw the top of the dugout and knew it was coming back. I stayed with it."His two-out home run provided the insurance."He blew the first pitch by me since I was looking changeup," Buck said. "I told myself, 'All right, just relax and react.' Then he threw a cutter than didn't cut and happened to be pretty much the same as the first pitch."Meche (9-9) beat the A's for only the third time in 11 decisions, giving up two runs while walking two and striking out eight. Meche improved to 6-1 over his last 10 starts, with an ERA of 2.66 over that span."That leadoff double in the third; in April he scores," Meche said. "Tonight I realized I still had to go after the hitters. My fastball had a lot of life and I made a lot of good pitches."Mark Ellis and Bobby Crosby drove in runs for the A's, who lost their 11th in the last 13 games and own the majors worst record (2-9) since the All-Star break."It's not fun scoring two runs a game," Ellis said. "But you have to work and keep working and keep trying to have good at-bats and make the pitchers work a little bit more."Greg Smith (5-10) lost his fourth straight decision after allowing five runs and four hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five."I didn't pitch to the situation and it came back to hurt me," Smith said. "It's frustrating because I think I threw well, but then the results weren't there."Smith picked off his 13th runner, getting David DeJesus to end the first inning. That is the most pickoffs by an AL pitcher since Andy Pettitte had 14 for the New York Yankees in 1997.Aviles, batting .378 over his past 19 games, tripled to lead off the fourth and scored on Grudzielanek's sacrifice fly.The A's tied it in the fourth when Jack Cust doubled and Ellis followed with a single.Meche, making his 200th career start, retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced.Ron Mahay pitched the eighth and Joakim Soria recorded his 29th save in 31 chances with a scoreless ninth.
Soria moved past Juan Acevedo as the all-time season saves leader for a Mexican-born pitcher. ... Royals 1B Ross Gload hit ninth for the first time this season. ... Ellis needs one game at second base to tie Dick Green (721) for the Oakland record. ... Meche is one of six pitchers (with at least 50 innings) to allow three or fewer home runs since June 1. ... Smith's run support of 3.06 is the lowest in the AL. ... The Royals have gone a season-high seven games without committing an error. ... The A's have dropped a season-high five straight series. ... A's OF Ryan Sweeney went 0-for-4 and had his 10-game hitting streak snapped.