(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics aim to maintain their recent mastery of the Kansas City Royals when the two teams continue a three-game series this evening from Kauffman Stadium.
Oakland posted a 3-1 victory in Monday's opener of this set, the Athletics' fifth in a row in Kansas City and 12th in 15 overall meetings between the clubs since the start of the 2009 season. The A's swept a three-game series in Kauffman Stadium back in July and are now 6-1 against the Royals this season.
The Athletics have also won four of their last five contests and prevailed yesterday behind an outstanding major league debut from pitcher Bobby Cramer. The 30-year-old journeyman, who had spent most of this season pitching in the Mexican League, held Kansas City to one run on four hits and a walk over the game's first 5 1/3 innings.
"Just getting here was amazing in itself, but now that I'm here I want to pitch well," Cramer said afterward. "I want to show everybody who I think I can be up here. Going out and giving up a run today, giving us a chance to win is going to take a good step in that direction."
Oakland's bullpen helped Cramer get his first big-league win, with five relievers combining to keep the Royals scoreless over the final 3 2/3 frames. Andrew Bailey allowed a couple of baserunners in the ninth, but quickly ended the threat to notch his 24th save of the season.
The A's mustered only four hits on the afternoon, one being a solo homer from Jack Cust, but took advantage of three Kansas City errors to score two unearned runs.
Luke Hochevar (5-5) was victimized by his team's poor defense, with the Royals starter pinned with the loss after surrendering two runs -- both unearned -- on just two hits in five innings of work.
"I didn't feel like my command was sharp," said Hochevar, who walked three and threw just 39-of-78 pitches for strikes. "Too many three-ball counts. I put myself in those situations where runs are scored."
Mike Aviles paced the Royals offensively by going 3-for-4 and belting a solo homer off Cramer in the fourth inning.
Kansas City has now lost nine of its last 12 outings and figures to draw a tough task again tonight, with the Athletics set to send Gio Gonzalez to the mound. The young lefty will be seeking his 15th victory of the season and has come away with a win in each of his last four trips to the hill.
Gonzalez extended his winning run by firing a sharp 6 2/3 innings to best Seattle last Wednesday, permitting three runs and striking out nine Mariners in his team's 4-3 verdict. The 24-year-old has yielded two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts and registered a stellar 1.65 earned run average over that span, with Oakland coming out on top in every one of those games.
The Florida native also pitched well in a July 16 clash with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on July 16, giving up just one run over seven innings to earn another win. Gonzalez is 1-1 with a 4.96 ERA in three lifetime starts against Kansas City.
While Gonzalez has been unbeatable as of late, the Royals' Zack Greinke enters tonight's assignment on a four-start winless streak. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award recipient had registered three straight no-decisions before coming out on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision at Minnesota last Tuesday.
Greinke did throw an eight-inning complete game and allowed just five hits against the Twins, the third time in four starts he's lasted eight frames. The right-hander has put together a respectable 3.90 ERA for the season, but has only an 8-12 record to show for it.
The 26-year-old does own a 4-1 mark along with a 2.89 ERA in 12 career games (eight starts) against the Athletics, but that lone blemish came in that head- to-head meeting with Gonzalez in Kansas City on July 16. Greinke was reached for five runs in six innings that night, but only two were earned and he limited Oakland to four hits.