KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brandon McCarthy has pitched two complete games already this season for Oakland, which is good. Not so good were the outcomes.
Ultra-fast pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson came flying home from third on a shallow fly ball in the ninth inning Saturday night, giving Kansas City a 4-3 victory and making McCarthy 0-2 in his two complete games.
“I felt ready to go (in the ninth). They were a couple of good pitches that I gave up hits on,” McCarthy said.
Through the first half of the crisply played game, McCarthy and Luke Hochevar squared off in a classic pitching duel. Hochevar sat down the first 11 A’s and McCarthy retired the first 14 Royals.
“He was outstanding,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He had one inning there, but he threw the ball well.”
Billy Butler singled leading off the ninth against McCarthy (1-3) and Dyson pinch ran. He sped to third when Jeff Francoeur singled and scored easily when Mike Aviles lifted a shallow fly into left that would probably have caused almost any other runner to stay put.
Geren said he had no qualms about sticking with McCarthy in the ninth.
“He was good. He was my best guy and he was fresh,” he said. “I had a lot of guys down in the bullpen. He was throwing a good game. (The bullpen) has (pitched in) five out of seven, four out of five. There was no way some of those guys were going to pitch (Saturday).”
Joakim Soria (2-0) worked the ninth and got the victory.
McCarthy went eight innings plus four batters, gave up seven hits and four runs, with two walks and three strikeouts. On April 21, he lost a complete-game 1-0 decision to Seattle.
“McCarthy was tough,” Aviles said. “He was going in and out, cutter, curveball. He pitched really well (Saturday). He pitched well the whole game. I’m not surprised he finished out the game.”
Hochevar, trying to beat Oakland for the first time in five decisions, was locked in a scoreless duel with McCarthy until the fifth when Butler’s sacrifice fly capped a three-run inning for Kansas City.
After Andy LaRoche singled leading off the Oakland eighth, just the fourth hit off Hochevar, rookie Aaron Crow came out of the bullpen with a streak of 15 1/3 scoreless innings to start his career.
Kevin Kouzmanoff singled and then Cliff Pennington slammed Crow’s 2-1 pitch into the visitor’s bullpen, tying it 3-all with the first runs Crow had allowed as a major leaguer.
McCarthy did not allow a baserunner until rookie Eric Hosmer singled into right with two outs in the fifth for his first major league hit. McCarthy had not even gone 2-0 on a batter until Francoeur lined out to first baseman Daric Barton just before Hosmer came to the plate.
The Royals finally broke through against McCarthy when Matt Treanor and Alcides Escobar, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, singled leading off the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt, Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon stroked RBI singles for a 2-0 lead before Butler’s sacrifice fly put the Royals on top 3-0.
Hideki Matsui doubled leading off the fifth, went to third on an infield out and tried to score on LaRoche’s grounder to shortstop Escobar. But Escobar’s strong throw to the plate resulted in a 6-2-5 putout.
The A’s argued that Dyson left the bag early.
“I thought so, from my angle,” Geren said. “You make the appeal play. You put the call in their hands.”
Dyson, at first, thought Geren may have been right.
“I thought I probably left a hair early, but I looked at the replay and it looked good to me,” he said.