KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals wasted a solid outing by starter Jakob Junis in a 5-1 loss to the Oakland A’s on Sunday
Junis has been the Royals’ most consistent starter this season, but the A’s got to him — and the bullpen — in the eighth.
Dustin Fowler got things started with a soft single. He stole second and scored on Jed Lowrie’s single.
Junis had twice struck out Lowrie with runners on to end an inning. This time, Lowrie had him measured and the hit gave the A’s a 2-1 lead.
Junis was finished, but the A’s weren’t. Reliever Burch Smith issued a walk ahead of Matt Olson’s mammoth 454-foot three-run blast off the water spectacular in center.
The loss went to Junis, who fell to 5-5 but remains the only Royals starter without a losing record. His nine strikeouts on Sunday were a career best.
The Royals had few good swings against Oakland starter Daniel Gossett, who entered the game with a 6.05 ERA and went five innings before leaving with right elbow tightness. But Jon Jay had his best hack of the season.
Jay’s solo home run in the third tied the game, was his first as a member of the Royals and kept his hot bat alive.
He was the Royals’ player of the month for May after hitting .368 with 43 hits. Only Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor had more among major leaguers for the month.
Jay has been a singles machine. He entered Sunday’s game with 58, second in the majors. But this time he went deep against A’s starter Daniel Gossett, blasting a 1-0 pitch over the right-centerfield wall, a distance of 413 feet.
The home run was his first since July 5 last season, when Jay was a member of the Cubs. The 442 at-bats between homers was the longest active streak in the majors among non-pitchers.
The Royals finished with three hits.
Whit Merrifield created a scoring chance in the sixth inning and might have prevented the run from crossing home plate. He reached on a one-out walk and stole second. With two outs, Merrifield took third for his 14th stolen base of the season.
The ball deflected off Chapman’s glove and rolled into foul territory. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele waved Merrifield on, but after a step toward home, Merrifield returned to third.
Would Merrifield have scored? Chapman got to the ball quickly and, without knowing where Merrifield was, fired a strike to catcher Jonathan Lucory.
Rare error: Alcides Escobar booted a grounder off the bat of Matt Chapman with two outs in the sixth. The Royals had played the previous seven games without an error. But the A’s couldn’t take advantage. Chapman became the eighth player thrown out by catcher Salvador Perez in 16 attempts this season. Fowler’s swipe in the eighth made Perez eight for 17.
Next: Danny Duffy (2-6), seeking his third victory in three games, is on the mound when the Royals open a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels today. In his last two outings, Duffy has surrendered two earned runs in 13.2 innings. Nick Tropeano (3-3) will start for the Angels.