Athletics 6, Royals 3

Tommy Milone shut out the Kansas City Royals for eight innings,

and then got in just enough trouble in the ninth to ensure that

Grant Balfour would have a nice, easy save chance.

A save that will go down in Oakland history, too.

Balfour gave up a run-scoring single to Billy Butler before

retiring the final two batters of the game Friday night, preserving

the A’s 6-3 victory and notching his 40th consecutive save to tie

Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley’s franchise record.

”You know, it’s an accomplishment. Definitely,” Balfour said.

”I don’t like to look into it too much – I’m superstitious,

obviously. But I never knew about this, and it’s not something I

set out to do. It just happened. I still have a lot of work to

do.”

Balfour has 22 saves this season to match the mark that

Eckersley set from Sept. 15, 1991-Aug. 7, 1992, this one helping

the A’s (51-36) win for the seventh time in their last nine

games.

”That’s pretty remarkable, but when you look at Grant, it’s not

surprising what he’s able to do,” Milone said. ”That’s pretty

cool for him. I’m happy.”

Happy enough to get into trouble in the ninth for him?

”We can go there if you want,” Milone said, grinning. ”Yeah,

I guess.”

Milone (8-7) was in control before Alcides Escobar and Eric

Hosmer drove in runs to get the Royals within 6-2 with one out in

the ninth. Balfour came on and gave up the single to Butler, but he

managed to retire Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas to end the

game.

”Like him, I don’t like to talk about it a whole lot, but

you’re asking me the question,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of

Balfour’s save streak. ”Pretty phenomenal.”

Milone, who had been battered in his last three starts,

outpitched Wade Davis (4-7) in another strong night from Oakland’s

pitching staff. The A’s had put together 18 1-3 innings without

giving up a run before the Royals plated their three in the

ninth.

Milone was two outs shy of racking up Oakland’s third shutout in

its last eight games.

”A tough eight innings. Tommy Milone was really on top of his

game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”What makes him so tough on

nights like tonight, he can command his fastball to both sides of

the plate, but when that changeup is on, it’s almost

unhittable.”

The recent history for Milone and Davis pointed to runs-a-plenty

on Friday night. Milone had been struggling lately, and Davis was

yanked after one-plus inning last Saturday.

So naturally, the two of them took turns mowing through

hitters.

Milone retired his first 11 batters, and only twice allowed a

ball to get out of the infield through the first three innings. The

left-hander finally gave up a single to Hosmer with two outs in the

fourth, but that was it until David Lough’s two-out single in the

sixth.

”We were just trying to take pitches and try to see as many

pitches as possible,” said the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain, ”but he was

pounding the zone.”

Davis only needed 10 pitches to get through the first inning

against Oakland, and the right-hander set down nine straight before

Josh Reddick’s double in the third. Eric Sogard came through with a

timely single to shallow left field that gave the scrappy A’s a 1-0

lead.

Davis cruised through the fourth, and then issued a leadoff walk

to John Jaso in the fifth. Reddick followed with a triple to right,

and he scampered home on Coco Crisp’s sacrifice fly.

The A’s added three more in the ninth, two of them when Cain

misplayed a line drive in right field that bounced off his glove –

”I just flat-out missed it,” he said.

The Royals tried to rally in the ninth behind back-to-back

doubles by Lough and Escobar, and consecutive singles by Hosmer and

Butler. But the unflappable Balfour got Cain and Moustakas on

harmless groundouts to record his historic save.

”I hope you’re not jinxing him by talking about it,” Reddick

said with a smile.

NOTES: Royals OF Alex Gordon passed his concussion tests after

colliding with the wall while trying to make a catch Wednesday

night. He could return this weekend. … The Royals requested

unconditional release waivers on OF Jeff Francoeur, who was

designated for assignment June 30. LHP Francisley Bueno accepted an

outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha. … A’s LHP Brett Anderson

plans to play catch Saturday after a CT scan cleared him to begin

walking on his right foot without a boot. He’s been on the DL with

a stress fracture since May 1. … RHP Jarrod Parker will start

Saturday for Oakland against Royals RHP Ervin Santana.