OAKLAND (AP) — The Oakland Athletics are struggling offensively and are using the bullpen a little bit too much. Catcher Stephen Vogt, an All-Star a year ago, is keeping the faith.
Vogt homered, singled twice and scored both runs for the A’s, who lost 4-2 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The A’s, batting .212 as a team, dropped their fourth straight and fell to 1-7 at home.
“We’re having good at bats and that’s the frustrating thing,” Vogt said. “I still love our lineup, and it’s deep.”
Kendrys Morales had three hits and got his 500th career RBI to help the defending World Series champion Royals win their fourth straight.
Volquez (2-0) pitched six innings, retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced. He gave up two runs on four hits, walking four and striking out two. Eric Hosmer homered and Lorenzo Cain also each drove in a run for the Royals.
“We just keep hitting and thinking positively,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ll get out of it.”
Rich Hill (1-2) struggled through 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and nine hits. He needed 106 pitches to get through his outing. Hill walked three and struck out six.
“If we have to go to the bullpen in the fifth inning, I’m just not doing my job,” Hill said. “It’s disappointing when you have to go to the pen early.”
Hill left the game with one out and two runners on in the fifth.
Fernando Rodriguez took over and walked Salvador Perez to load the bases before getting Christian Colon to hit into a double play.
“His fastball command was a lot better,” Melvin said. “They fouled off a lot of balls. He’s getting better each time out.”
The A’s used four relievers a second straight game, something that concerns Melvin.
“It is a bit of concern,” Melvin said. “We had to cover a lot of innings again. Overall we need to get deeper into games.”
Alcides Escobar reversed field, grabbed a ball barehanded that hit off Volquez and threw out Jed Lowrie in the fourth, potentially stopping an A’s rally. Khris Davis singled home Vogt in the next at bat.
Royals: INF Mike Moustakas was given scheduled time off, a day after going 2 for 4 with a home run Thursday. He’s been dealing with a hamstring issue, though Royals manager Ned Yost said it’s something he’s been dealing with for awhile. Moustakas is a career .151 hitter in 31 games against the A’s, with 19 strikeouts and 16 hits. He’s hitting .140 in Oakland.
Athletics: INF Eric Sogard returned to Oakland from his rehab assignment in Stockton to get an MRI on his left knee, which has bothered him off and on since spring training. “He felt some discomfort,” Melvin said. “It’s popped up enough that it’s worrisome.” Sogard went on the DL with a cervical strain. ... RHP Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder injury) completed a 30-pitch simulated game on Friday. “He’s ramping it up,” Melvin said. “It looks like he could be in a game.”
THE NINE HOLE
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien’s early-season power is not by chance and he gives Melvin the option of batting him ninth in the order.
“We knew he had power and it’s showed up with what he’s done with his hands,” Melvin said. “You’re constantly tinkering, making adjustments. I like the speed-power dynamic in the nine hole. It’s a real luxury to have.”
Royals: RHP Chris Young (0-2, 7.45) makes Saturday’s start for Kansas City. He’s 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 appearances, 11 starts, against the A’s.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 2.70) starts for Oakland on Saturday. He’s 0-2 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Royals.