Final

Series: Game 1 of 4

Kansas City leads 1-0 (as of 8/11)

Game 1: Monday, August 11
Oakland2Final
Kansas City3
Game 2: Tuesday, August 12
Oakland11Final
Kansas City3
Game 3: Wednesday, August 13
Oakland0Final
Kansas City3
Game 4: Thursday, August 14
Oakland3Final
Kansas City7

Athletics 2

(72-46, 32-25 away)

Royals 3

(64-53, 31-27 home)

    8:10 PM ET, August 11, 2014

    Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    OAK 002000000 2 3 1
    KC 11000010 - 3 6 0

    W: K. Herrera (3-2)

    L: S. Gray (12-6)

    S: G. Holland (35)

    Royals top A's for 8th win a row, take AL Central lead 

    Associated Press

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alcides Escobar pumped his fist. Jarrod Dyson did a backflip. And for the first time in more than a decade, the Kansas City Royals were in first place in mid-August.

    Yordano Ventura outpitched Sonny Gray in a matchup of talented young starters Monday night, and Escobar drove in the go-ahead run as Kansas City beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 to take over the AL Central lead from Detroit with its eighth consecutive victory.

    "You want to be in first place. Our goal was to get back to first place," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Now our goal is to stay in first place."

    The Royals trailed the Tigers by eight games on July 21, but their 16th win in 19 games wiped away the deficit and gave them the lead at the latest point in a season since 2003.

    "We're playing great," said Escobar, who drove in a run in the second inning before his two-out single off Gray (12-6) in the seventh gave Kansas City the lead for good.

    Ventura lasted through six innings before giving way to Kelvin Herrera (3-2), who tossed a spotless seventh. Wade Davis breezed through the eighth and Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 35th save, though it didn't come without a little drama.

    Josh Donaldson led off the ninth with a single, the first hit by the Athletics since the second inning, and Brandon Moss drew a walk. But after a brief conference on the mound, Holland got Derek Norris to bounce into a double play and Stephen Vogt to fly out to end the game.

    "He has the ability to focus pitch to pitch, which good closers can do," Yost said. "You get first and second with his stuff, you just have a feeling he's going to get out of it."

    Kansas City put pressure on right from the start, when Dyson and Omar Infante opened the game with back-to-back singles. Gray might have escaped the jam, though, if right fielder Josh Reddick hadn't flubbed a routine throw to the infield after Infante's hit. It allowed Dyson to reach third base easily, and he scored on Salvador Perez's double-play groundout.

    "It's pretty embarrassing," Reddick said, "especially since it cost us a run. And we end up losing by one run, so it doesn't make your feel any better."

    After Escobar made it 2-0 in th second, Oakland answered with some help from Ventura, who worked to overcome command problems most of the night. John Jaso led off with a single, Coco Crisp worked a walk and Donaldson earned another free pass to load the bases with two outs.

    Moss hit a full-count pitch up the middle to score both runners and knot the game.

    Yost pulled Ventura after a double play got the rookie right-hander through the sixth. And when Gray faltered in the seventh and Kansas City took the lead, one of the stingiest bullpens in baseball made sure the smallest of margins was enough.

    "Those three guys at the end are as good as you get," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They don't worry about righty-lefty. They feel when they get to the seventh inning with a lead, they feel pretty good about it."

    LEADERS OF THE PACK

    The Royals have not trailed since the first inning of Thursday's game in Arizona, a span of 44 innings. "There's just a real confidence right now when we step on the field," Yost said.

    BULLISH BULLPENS

    Herrera has worked 17 1/3 consecutive scoreless dating to June 27. That's the third-longest stretch in the majors behind Davis, who has gone 17 2/3 innings, and the A's Ryan Cook, who has gone 19 innings.

    GRAY AREA

    Gray struck out a career-low two batters while losing to Kansas City for the second time in his young career. The only other team he's lost to twice is Baltimore.

    TRAINER'S ROOM

    Athletics: SS Jed Lowrie was back in the starting lineup. He's missed time recently with a bruised right index finger.

    Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer continues to wear a brace on his right hand after breaking his third metacarpal. He hopes to return in September.

    UP NEXT

    LHP Jon Lester, who beat the Royals in his first start with Oakland, tries to move to 3-0 since arriving from Boston in a July 31 trade. Kansas City counters with RHP Jeremy Guthrie.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Game Information

    StadiumKauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
    Attendance21,479 (56.7% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:35
    Weather76 degrees, clear
    Wind16 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Chris Guccione, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Hal Gibson III

    Research Notes

    Sonny Gray has limited hitters to an .011 ISO in at-bats to end in a curveball, which is the lowest rate in MLB among pitchers to end at least 50 at-bats with the pitch. The Kansas City Royals have a team ISO of .065 in at-bats to end in a curveball, which is fourth lowest in the league.
    Yordano Ventura has thrown 325 fastballs at 95 mph or faster this season, which is the fourth most among qualified starters in MLB. However, opposing hitters have a .748 OPS against Ventura's fastball when he throws it at least 95 mph, which is 80 points higher than the league average among qualified starters against such pitches. The Oakland Athletics have a .781 team OPS against fastballs thrown at least 95 mph, which is second in MLB.

    ESPN Stats & Information