Athletics-Royals Preview

Although he’s pitched well lately, Jarrod Parker hasn’t gotten

to play much of a role in the Oakland Athletics’ resurgence.

After having to leave his most recent start, Parker will try to

lead the A’s to their eighth win in 10 games Saturday against the

Kansas City Royals.

Parker (6-6, 4.11 ERA) is 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his last seven

starts and had pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings against St. Louis

last Saturday before developing problems with his right hamstring.

Oakland lost 7-1 after he left.

“He wanted to try to finish the inning but he still felt it,”

manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s not a prudent thing to do. The

unfortunate thing was that might have been as good as stuff as he’s

had all year.”

The A’s (51-36) haven’t suffered too many defeats lately,

however, and continued the momentum from a successful homestand

with a 6-3 victory in Friday’s series opener. Oakland had dropped

seven of 10 before winning six of eight at home.

Coco Crisp drove in three runs in his team’s fifth straight win

over the Royals (40-43), and Josh Reddick tripled, doubled and had

a pair of RBIs. Grant Balfour, meanwhile, tied Hall of Famer Dennis

Eckersley’s franchise record from 1991-92 by converting his 40th

consecutive save and 22nd this season.

“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.”

The A’s will try to help Balfour claim the record while adding

to Ervin Santana’s winless stretch. Santana (5-5, 2.84) hasn’t

earned a victory since June 13 despite a 3.32 ERA in his last three

games.

The right-hander has more wins over Oakland than any opponent,

going 14-6 with a 2.09 ERA in 25 starts, but has lost each of his

last two matchups despite a 2.08 ERA in those games.

He allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings May 18 but

the Royals fell 2-1 in Oakland. That start is one of 16 in a row in

which he’s pitched at least six innings, the longest active run in

the majors.

He gave up four runs over six frames in Sunday’s 9-8 win in

Minnesota but also walked a season-high four after posting a 1.56

ERA in his first five starts in June.

“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Santana said. “I did not

have good command, but I made good pitches and gave my team a

chance to win.”

The Royals are hoping Alex Gordon can return as soon as possible

after learning from the team’s medical staff that he did not have a

concussion. The outfielder hasn’t played since hitting his head on

the bullpen fence in Wednesday’s 6-5 win over Cleveland.

The team was still awaiting clearance from MLB’s independent

physician.

“I’m following all the rules and they’ve cleared me to go, so

I’m just going to get back in action and get things going,” Gordon

said Friday.

Gordon is batting .350 in his last 10 games against Oakland and

is 2 for 6 all-time against Parker.