Game preview: Royals look to avert sweep in Oakland

OAKLAND (AP) — After struggling during the first half of May, the Oakland Athletics might be ready to make a run in the positive direction.

Coming off consecutive one-run victories, the A’s try to complete their first three-game home sweep of the struggling Kansas City Royals in five years Sunday.

One night after Oakland (22-22) rallied to score a run in both the seventh and eighth innings, Brandon Moss delivered a tiebreaking triple to highlight a two-run sixth Saturday and help his team to a second straight 2-1 victory over Kansas City.

The A’s lost 10 of 14 to open May, and though they’ve managed 11 hits in this series, they recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game run to conclude April. Oakland’s last three-game home sweep of Kansas City (20-19) was April 18-20, 2008.

Paced by starters Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, Oakland pitchers have allowed 10 hits in the first two against the Royals, who have dropped nine of 12.

“That was Houdini,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin after Milone labored through the first two innings Saturday to last six and help the A’s build momentum.

A.J. Griffin (4-3, 3.48 ERA) looks to maintain his success this month when he takes the mound for Oakland. The right-hander posted a 9.00 ERA while losing his last two starts of April, but improved to 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in May when he allowed a homer and struck out eight in seven innings of a 5-1 win over Texas on Monday.

“Command-wise, I’d say it’s my best start in the major leagues,” Griffin told the Athletics’ official website.

This will be his first appearance against the Royals, who counter with Luis Mendoza (1-2, 6.00).

The right-hander looks to build on his first win of the year after he yielded three runs in six innings of an 11-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. Mendoza is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three road starts this season.

“Every start I’m going to feel better and better and (Monday) I just felt great,” Mendoza told the Royals’ official website.

Mendoza is 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA in two starts against the A’s, but he allowed a run in 5 2-3 innings of a 1-0 loss at Oakland on April 9, 2012.

A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson is batting .462 (12 for 26) in his last seven games, and .368 (7 for 19) in his last six against the Royals.

Kansas City’s Billy Butler delivered a bloop single with two outs in the first inning Saturday, but the Royals went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the second inning but failed to score.

“That was the turning point in the game,” said Butler, who had two of Kansas City’s five hits. “We had chances. Bases loaded, no outs … you’re supposed to capitalize on that.”

Butler is 10 for 21 (.476) with 10 RBIs in five games after hitting .114 (4 for 35) in the previous nine.