KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Will Smith, a 23-year-old left-hander, made his ninth major league start Wednesday night and he pitched like a veteran.
Smith went seven strong innings, Chris Getz doubled home the go-ahead run and the Kansas City Royals defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-2.
Smith (4-4) limited the A’s to two runs and five hits, while striking out five and walking one. In winning his past two starts, Smith has allowed four runs and 11 hits in 14 innings.
“Will did a good job of battling without his best stuff,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I thought his fastball was flat at times. He battled through the sixth and seventh and kept us in the game. Early in the game, he was struggling to get the ball down with all of his pitches.
“The thing that was so impressive about tonight’s game, a young pitcher on the mound without his best stuff and he’s competing his tail off and keeping his club in the game and that’s a tremendous sign for a young pitcher to be able to do that. I was very impressed with that. He ended up getting us through seven innings. There were times I wasn’t sure we could get him through the fifth.
“When you’re a young pitcher and you don’t have your best stuff, you know it and you tend to fight yourself in those situations. You try to be too perfect and just end up getting your brains beat in. But this kid went out tonight and competed his tail off.”
Smith acknowledged his stuff was lacking.
“You’re not going to have your best stuff every single night,” Smith said. “So it’s a battle sometime and tonight was a battle. I had zero fastball command. It was really spotty. Sometime it would be there and sometimes it wouldn’t. I was just struggling with that. I had to battle through it. We had some amazing defense. Our defense is unreal.”
With two outs in the seventh, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Getz hit consecutive doubles, the first Kansas City extra-base hits of the game. Cain, who was in a 2-for-24 skid, doubled home Hosmer to tie the score.
Left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle was brought in to face Getz. After fouling off five pitches with two strikes, Getz stroked an opposite-field double on the 11th pitch to bring home Cain.
“I don’t know if that’s the best at-bat of the year, but it’s darn sure in the top five. An 11-pitch at-bat against a tough left-hander to drive in the winning run was a great job,” Yost said.
A’s starter Brandon McCarthy (6-4) lost for the first time since April 21, snapping his career-best six-game winning streak. McCarthy, who is 6-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his past nine starts, gave up three runs, two earned, and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, while walking none and striking out four.
“It stunk,” McCarthy said. “It was a bad loss for us across the board. These are games we expect to win and games we have been winning all year. I’m not happy with myself. There are a lot of things I could have done better. Giving up runs, I don’t like to do that. I don’t like doing it late in the game. I don’t like doing it with two outs.”
The Royals scored an unearned run in the first. Alcides Escobar, who reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and advanced to third on catcher Derek Norris’ throwing error. Escobar scored on Billy Butler’s grounder to Josh Donaldson, who threw home high and late.
The Athletics tied it in the second. Chris Carter led off with a double and he stopped at third on Donaldson’s single and scored on Brandon Moss’ single.
Donaldson, who was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Sacramento, homered just inside the left-field foul pole in the fourth inning to give the A’s a 2-1 lead.
Greg Holland worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to collect his fourth save in five opportunities.
NOTES: Royals manager Ned Yost said, “it was sad, sorry to hear it,” upon learning Giants OF Melky Cabrera, who played last season for the Royals, had been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. … A’s RF Josh Reddick was scratched from the lineup after having complications from a tooth extraction. … LHP John Lamb, who was the Royals’ top pitching prospect, struck out two in a scoreless inning Tuesday for the Royals Arizona Rookie League club. It was Lamb’s first appearance since May 19, 2011 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and having Tommy John surgery. .RHP Luke Hochevar is the Royals starter for the series finale. Hochevar is 0-7 with a 6.96 ERA in eight career starts against the A’s. Oakland will counter with rookie RHP Dan Straily.