Baseball / MLB

A's waste late lead to Royals as advantage over Tampa Bay down to 1


There was plenty of blame to go around after Oakland’s stunning loss to Kansas City, one that prevented the Athletics from adding on to their lead in the AL wild-card race.

A costly error in the ninth inning by center fielder Ramon Laureano. Manager Bob Melvin’s decision to lift hot-hitting first baseman Matt Olson for a pinch-runner an inning earlier.

Liam Hendriks pointed the finger at himself.

Brett Phillips hit a tying home run off Hendricks in the ninth, Adalberto Mondesi followed with an RBI double and the Kansas City Royals beat Oakland 6-5 on Monday night to end the Athletics’ six-game winning streak.

“It felt like I was making some pitches when I needed to but not enough,” Hendriks said. “I fell behind a couple times and had to kind of groove them a fastball. At the end of the day I didnt get the job done and the team paid for it.”

Oakland’s lead over Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card was cut to one game. Cleveland is 1½ games behind the Rays.

Khris Davis’ RBI single off Kevin McCarthy (4-2) gave Oakland a 5-4 lead in the eighth.

Phillips homered on a 2-0 fastball from Hendriks (4-3) with one out in the ninth, Hendriks’ sixth blown save in 28 chances.

“Ball was down the middle to Phillips and Mondesi hit a pretty good pitch the other way for a double,” Melvin said. “He’s been absolutely fantastic for us. Every now and then you’re going to blow a save.”

Whit Merrifield reached when Laureano allowed his drive to pop out of the pocket of his glove at the front of the warning track for an error. Mondesi sliced an opposite-field double to left.

“Just looked like he turned around and once he turned back around he just picked it up a little late,” Melvin said.

Marcus Semien singled leading off the bottom half for Oakland but Ian Kennedy retired his next three batters for his 30th save in 35 chances, giving the Royals’ Ned Yost his 1,200th win in 16 seasons as a major league manager.

Kennedy struck out Chad Pinder to end it. Pinder had replaced Olson in the batting order.

At 56-95, the Royals are trying to avoid their second straight 100-loss season.

“That’s a good team over there,” Yost said. “It’s hard to fall back four runs early because you knows runs are going to be tough to come by.”

Jorge Soler homered leading off the fourth, tying injured Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout for the AL lead with his 45th home run.

Alex Gordon had two RBIs.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2

In St. Louis, Marcell Ozuna drove in four runs and threw out a runner at home plate from left field, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Monday night.

St. Louis retained its two-game lead over the second-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Washington is one-half game ahead of the Cubs for the top NL wild card.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez missed the game following a heart procedure in Washington, and bench coach Chip Hale was in charge of the dugout.

Dexter Fowler walked against Sean Doolittle (6-5) with one out in the seventh, Hunter Strickland walked Paul Goldschmidt with two outs and Ozuna doubled just inside the left-field line, just the second hit in 11 at-bats for the Cardinals with runners in scoring position.

Dakota Hudson (16-7) won for the sixth time in seven starts. Carlos Martínez got his 20th save in 23 chances.

Cubs 8, Reds 2

In Chicago, Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run homer and made a diving catch in left field, helping Chicago win its fifth straight.

Nicholas Castellanos added a two-run double in the eighth inning as the Cubs moved a season-high 14 games above .500. Chicago has outscored its opponents 59-18 during its win streak.

The Cubs (82-68) pulled within a half-game of Washington for the top spot in the wild-card standings and stayed two games back of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which held off the Nationals for a 4-2 win.

Steve Cishek, Alec Mills (1-0), Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan and David Phelps combined for 5⅔ scoreless innings in relief of an ineffective Cole Hamels. It was Mills’ first major league win in his 17th big league appearance.

Kevin Gausman (3-9) pitched two innings for the Reds in his first start since he was claimed off waivers from the Braves last month.

In Other Games

Rockies 9, Mets 4

Diamondbacks 7, Marlins 5

Twins 5, White Sox 3

Brewers 4, Padres 1

Tigers 5, Orioles 2