OAKLAND (AP) — Frankie Montas has somehow had an easier time succeeding as a starter in the big leagues than he did in the minors.
Montas pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning to win his third straight start since being called up to the majors and Khris Davis homered twice to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 7-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
“I always trusted myself and I always believed in myself,” Montas said through an interpreter. “Now things are going well.”
It wasn’t that way in the minors this season when Montas (3-0) had a 1-5 record in nine starts at Triple-A Nashville. But he is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA with the A’s this season, including eight shutout innings against Kansas City last Friday.
Montas was sharp once again, allowing six hits and holding Kansas City scoreless until Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth. He relied heavily on his hard sinker.
“It’s very unpredictable,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “For me behind the plate, I don’t know where it’s going to be at. It’s a good thing, because if I don’t, a hitter definitely doesn’t. He pitches to contact and just attacks. He has a great mentality out there.”
Dustin Fowler also homered and Lucroy drove in three runs to help the A’s send the Royals to their sixth straight loss and drop them to a season-worst 22 games under .500.
Davis gave Montas the early lead with his solo homer with two outs in the first against Jakob Junis (5-6) and added another to lead off the fourth for his 17th career multihomer game and second this year.
Fowler added a solo shot in the third and Lucroy had an RBI single in the fourth and two-run double in the sixth.
Junis allowed six runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings to lose his third straight start.
“I didn’t feel like he was sharp,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I felt he was struggling to command his slider in spots where he’s really efficient, down and away. He was leaving balls middle, middle in a little bit on the slider. I just felt he wasn’t his normal sharp self.”
Lou Trivino got four outs for his first save.
Athletics: Oakland scratched Trevor Cahill from Saturday’s start because of a sore Achilles’ tendon from running. Chris Bassitt will come up from Triple-A Nashville to start but Cahill won’t need to go on the DL. ... RHP Santiago Casilla was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list and RHP Ryan Dull was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Casilla had a 3.32 ERA and one save in 16 relief appearances before going on the DL on May 26 with a strained right shoulder.
Melvin proved to be prophetic. He said before the game that he expected to hear a big cheer from the crowd around 8:30 p.m., signifying that the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title. At almost exactly that time, the crowd cheered as the basketball game ended. The Warriors actually drew a bigger crowd at their arena next door to watch the basketball game on TV, with more than 19,000 fans turning out for that, compared to 10,132 for the A’s.
“Congratulations to them,” Melvin said. “Amazing run they’re on and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon.”
Davis’ first inning homer was a line drive that went to right field and even had his teammates impressed.
“I’ve seen some home runs in my life,” Lucroy said. “But when you talk about going opposite field on a line like that, that doesn’t happen a lot unless your name is (Aaron) Judge or (Giancarlo) Stanton. You have to put Khris Davis up with those guys in terms of power. It’s been impressive.”
Bassitt makes his first big league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016 when he faces Danny Duffy (2-6) in the third game of the series.