OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Cole Ragans matched a career high with 11 strikeouts in six scoreless innings, Bobby Witt Jr. hit his 26th home run and the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Ragans (5-4) limited the A’s to two singles, improving to 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six starts since being traded from Texas on June 30. The left-hander has struck out 47 and walked 10 in 34 2/3 innings with the Royals.
“I just tried to attack today, go at the guys, No walks was, I think, the biggest thing for me. I didn’t give up any free baserunners. I made them earn their thing and trust my defense behind me and go from there,” Ragans said.
“That was probably one of the best performances we’ve seen all season on the mound,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay added. “You face that type of stuff and it’s a tough day. We really didn’t get any good swings off today.”
Dairon Blanco hit his first career homer off A’s starter Adrián Martínez in the third inning to put Kansas City ahead.
“I’m really happy for him,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He really got into that ball, a slider. That guy is tough on righties, too. For him to get that, I really feel good for him.”
Martínez (0-2) allowed one run on three hits and a walk, striking out three in 2 1/3 innings.
Drew Waters added to the lead with an RBI triple in the fourth. Maikel Garcia followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Witt homered in the fifth. He also singled and walked to help the Royals snap a four-game losing streak.
Oakland loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning, but Carlos Hernández retired Seth Brown and Zack Gelof to maintain the shutout.
“Bases loaded, there’s no room for error,” Quatraro said. “He continued to execute good pitches. His fastball was lively today, and he mixed his curveball and slider in, so they had to respect all three.”
Hernández also pitched the ninth inning to record his third save in six opportunities.
Gelof went 0 for 4, ending a 19-game on-base streak. The A’s were seeking their third series sweep of the season.
“Any time you win a game, you feel good for the guys,” Quatraro said. “We were in all three of these games and we were able to come out with this one. It’s better to go into an off-day feeling that way than getting swept, for sure.”
The Athletics selected LHP Sean Newcomb from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned LHP Hogan Harris. Newcomb was acquired from the Giants on Tuesday for minor league OF Trenton Brooks and pitched a scoreless ninth inning with a strikeout and a walk. Oakland transferred LHP Richard Lovelady (strained left forearm) to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.
Royals: Following an off-day, RHP Brady Singer (8-9, 5.04 ERA) opens a three-game series at Seattle on Friday opposite Mariners RHP Bryce Miller (8-4, 3.78).
Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk (2-7, 5.91) opens a four-game road series against the White Sox on Thursday. Chicago counters with RHP Jesse Scholtens (1-6, 3.79).