July 13, 2024

Fermin homers twice, Witt hits go-ahead blast in 8th to send Royals past A’s 3-2

Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr., right, is congratulated by Michael Massey (19) after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Freddy Fermin homered twice and Bobby Witt Jr. hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning as the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Fermin also singled for his first three-hit game of the season.

“He’s swinging the bat really well,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “That’s part of the reason we were trying to get him some at-bats and DH him. He works extremely hard, he’s always prepared, puts together really good at-bats, so I’m really happy for him.”

Witt homered off Oakland reliever Vinny Nittoli (0-1) to break a 2-all tie in the eighth, his 12th homer of the year.

“Just trying to make something happen,” Witt said. “It’s frustrating losing, so I knew we needed to do something to get a win.”

Zack Gelof homered for the third straight game, but Oakland failed to sweep Kansas City for the first time since 2016.

The Royals (42-34) haven’t been swept this year.

“We’re trying to be relentless,” Witt said. “We just try to go out there and take things day by day and not worry about what happened in the past, not worry about what’s still to come in the future and just worry about where we’re at.”

Fermin took A’s rookie Mitch Spence deep to left in the second inning and victimized Spence again in the fourth for his second career multi-homer game. He doubled his home run total this season.

Spence had a solid outing otherwise. He struck out a career-high seven, allowing two runs and six hits with a walk in six innings.

“It was a great series for us, especially coming off a road trip where we didn’t win a game,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Coming back home, winning a series and having an opportunity to sweep a team that’s in (contention), that’s a good sign.”

Gelof tied the game in the seventh with a two-run homer to center off Royals starter Seth Lugo. Following a two-out walk by Kyle McCann, Abraham Toro doubled down the right-field line against reliever James McArthur (4-3), but McCann was thrown out at the plate to keep the game tied.

Lugo permitted two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two.

“I thought it went pretty well, for the most part,” he said. “Giving up the two-run homer for them to tie it, that hurt, but glad we got the win. We needed a win, so it was big time.”

The A’s put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth. Chris Stratton came in and got two flyouts to secure his fourth save.

McCann was ejected by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in the bottom of the ninth for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout following a called third strike to Gelof.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: RHP Dan Altavilla was placed on the 15-day injured list after straining his right oblique Wednesday night. RHP Steven Cruz was recalled from Triple-A Omaha.

Athletics: Toro (shoulder soreness) was held out of the starting lineup for the third straight game, but entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and finished the game at third base.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Brady Singer (4-4, 3.39 ERA) seeks his first win since May 19 as Kansas City opens a three-game series at Texas on Friday night. The Rangers counter with RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-3, 3.15)

Athletics: RHP Joey Estes (2-2, 5.97) opens a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night opposite RHP Chris Paddack (5-3, 5.25).