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Buck's home run powers Royals past Athletics

May 15, 2007 - 6:51 AM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- John Buck's late heroics overshadowed a brilliant pitching duel.

Buck hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

With one out in the ninth, Buck drove a fastball from A's reliever Justin Duchscherer (3-3) over the fence in right-center field for his sixth homer of the year.

"We haven't had many (big) hits but the ones we have gotten, (Buck) has been a part of it," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "It was probably our biggest win of the year and the way Gil (Meche) was pitching tonight was really satisfying."

Jimmy Gobble (2-1) worked out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the eighth and Joakim Soria gave up a run in the ninth before finishing for his seventh save.

Buck's heroics stole the spotlight from starting pitchers Meche of Kansas City and Danny Haren of Oakland, who squared off for the second time in six days and were both superb.

"A 3-2 count and his ball cuts so much it's like a slider when I'm up there and I wanted to think like it's a slider so I could adjust to his curveball and drive it to right field," Buck said. "Of course 3-2 (count), he's got to be a little more aggressive in the strike zone and he left it up a little more and I got big wood on it."

Duchscherer has been pitching with an ailing hip, which he attributed to his lack of control.

"I'm not being arrogant but seven out of 10 (times) I can pretty much put it where I want and right now it's like four and it makes a big difference for a command guy like me," Duchscherer said. "I think (time off) is possible, I wouldn't discount it. I want to help the team win ballgames and if I'm not doing that because of a physical issue, then I should stop being stubborn and fix it so I can help the team."

Meche, who was signed to a five-year, $55 million contract as a free agent in the offseason, went seven innings, striking out five and walking two. He has pitched at least six inning in each of his nine starts.

Haren was even better, yielding four hits in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked four.

"Going into the game I know it's going to be low scoring and I knew it was going to be low scoring the last time out against Gil Meche," Haren said. "The guy's throwing the ball outstanding and in those games when it's 0-0 deep into the game I really have to tell myself to keep the ball down because one mistake, one two-run homer like what happened tonight, and the game's over."

Oakland, which rallied for five runs in the ninth in Sunday's 10-7 victory over Cleveland, threatened against Soria, who had blown saves in two of his three previous appearance.

Bobby Crosby had a one-out single, stole second and scored on pinch hitter Shannon Stewart's two-out single to left before Soria struck out Travis Buck to end it.

"He's a typical rookie, inexperienced guy that's going to have some ups and downs," Bell said of Soria. "But he knows what he's doing, he's composed. It'll be interesting to see how our bullpen sets up when (Octavio) Dotel gets back."

Both starting pitchers escaped trouble in the first inning before settling into a groove in a rematch of last Wednesday's matchup, won by the Royals, 3-2. Neither Haren or Meche figured in that decision.

Haren loaded the bases with one out on a double to Mark Grudzielanek and walks to Mark Teahen and and Mike Sweeney, but he wriggled out of it unscathed by striking out Shane Costa and retiring Esteban German on a fly ball.

Meche yielded a leadoff triple to Travis Buck, but also managed to keep it scoreless by inducing a pair of ground-ball outs and striking out Milton Bradley.

"After getting out of the first inning with a guy on third base and no outs there wasn't a situation I felt uncomfortable in the whole game," Meche said. "I knew I was a pitch away from a double play with first and second a couple of times and I've been able to do that so far.

"I'm making good pitches when I need to with guys in scoring position. If you can do that you're going to be all right."

The pitchers continued to dominate until the sixth, when Oakland mounted a threat on singles by Eric Chavez and Dan Johnson, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Meche came back to strike out red-hot Jack Cust, who had homered five teams in the previous four games, including a walk-off three-run blast in Sunday's win.

"Overall I definitely pitched and it was one of my better games," Meche said. "It was a tough battle and it would be nice to face another guy with a different name than Haren in my next start, I'll tell you that much."

Haren was rescued by some great defense behind him in the seventh. After allowing a one-out triple to German and a walk to Alex Gordon, third baseman Chavez snared John Buck's hard grounder and nailed German in a rundown.

Shortstop Crosby then dove to his left to knock down a single by Tony Pena Jr., loading the bases but preventing a run. David DeJesus followed with a line shot that Chavez speared at third to end the inning.

"I knew I had no shot at throwing him out, he's fast but I knew I had no shot at throwing him out," Crosby said. "He's fast, I tried to keep it in the infield that's the main thing and maybe catch the guy rounding third but I had no shot at throwing him out."

Kansas City's defense responded in the bottom of the seventh. Right fielder Mark Teahen let Mark Ellis' single bounce past him and Ellis wound up on third.

Teahen atoned for the miscue when he fired a strike to home plate to throw out Ellis, who was trying to score on Jason Kendall's flyout to right.

Brandon Duckworth relieved Meche in the eighth but walked the first two batters on eight pitchers, prompting Bell to place him with Gobble, who retired the next three to send the game to the ninth still scoreless.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    KANSAS CITY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 1
    OAKLAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 9 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: KAN - GIL MECHE, BRANDON DUCKWORTH (8TH), JIMMY GOBBLE (8TH), JOAKIM
    SORIA (9TH) AND JOHN BUCK
    OAK - DAN HAREN, JUSTIN DUCHSCHERER (9TH) AND JASON
    KENDALL

    HOME R

    May 15 12:51 AM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY SHANNON STEWART SCORED BOBBY CROSBY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, S STEWART ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2
    OAKLAND 1 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: T BUCK (.217, 1-FOR-3, BB)

    Royals vs. AthleticsMay 15 12:48 AM
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  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY JOHN BUCK (6) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF JUSTIN DUCHSCHERER SCORED ALEX GORDON.
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2, OAKLAND 0
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: T PENA JR (.239, 1-FOR-3)

    Royals vs. AthleticsMay 15 12:33 AM
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