The Royals gave up six runs in the last three innings, turning a late lead into a 9-5 loss to the Athletics on a Friday night at Oakland Coliseum.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead as the bottom of the seventh began, the Royals sent Craig Chamberlain back to the mound. He had retired the last two hitters in the sixth with two men on base, but Oakland’s Mitchell Page started the new inning with a home run to tie the score. After Tony Armas walked, Mike Jones took over on the mound for the Royals. After a forceout and intentional walk, Dan Quisenberry had his turn on the bump. Another forceout at second left men on first and third with two outs. Dave McKay hit a sinking line drive to left field, where Willie Wilson just missed a great diving catch. The ball bounced off his wrist, and McKay pulled into second with a double as both runners scored, giving Oakland a 6-4 lead.
Quisenberry struggled in the eighth, allowing a walk, three hits, and three more runs as the A’s put the game out of reach. Armas hit a sacrifice fly, followed by a Wayne Gross triple and Mickey Klutts double.
The Royals did have one last gasp, as they loaded the bases on three singles in the ninth inning with the heart of the order coming up and only one out. Willie Aikens hit a sacrifice fly to score one run, but Darrell Porter’s fly ball ended the game.
Page gave Oakland an early lead, roughing up a Rich Gale offering for a solo home run with two outs in the first inning. The Royals answered with two runs in the second. Aikens led off with his 18th homer of the year, and fourth in six games, this one off A’s starter Rick Langford. Porter followed with a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on Clint Hurdle’s sacrifice fly.
Kansas City added a run in the third. With one out, Willie Wilson and U L Washington singled. Third baseman Wayne Gross mishandled Hal McRae’s grounder, allowing Wilson to score and Washington to move to third. However, Aikens struck out and Porter lined out to end the inning with just one run scoring. As a side note, Wilson had three hits, giving him a season total of 201.
It didn’t take long for the Royals to regret not scoring more runs, as Oakland tied the score in their half of the third. Rob Picciolo led off with a single, and Gale walked Rickey Henderson. The A’s pulled off a double steal before a passed ball allowed Picciolo to score. Ken Brett replaced Gale on the mound after a strikeout, but Page singled to tie the game.
Brett would go on to pitch three scoreless innings, although he allowed five hits. That gave the Royals the chance to retake the lead, which they did in the sixth. Porter singled with one out, followed by an Amos Otis walk. Hurdle’s single scored Porter, although Otis was thrown out trying to reach third. But the Royals had a 4-3 lead, which would stand up until the seventh.
Langford, despite allowing 14 hits and racking up eight strikeouts (against two walks), threw a complete game to run his record to 16-11. It was Langford’s 22nd consecutive complete game, and 25th of the season.
With the loss, the Royals fell to 88-54. They still held a 17-game lead in the AL West, with Oakland moving into second place. Kansas City’s magic number to clinch the division was four.
George Brett watch: Once again, Brett was held out of the lineup with an injured right hand. Season stats: .396/.463/.668
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK198009120.shtml