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Jun 27, 8:24 PM EDT

A's keep it close but lose 3-2 to Royals


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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Long after his afternoon was over, Scott Kazmir was still unsure why he was called for a balk in the third inning.

It turned out to be a pivotal moment in the Oakland Athletics' 3-2 loss to the best team in the American League, and Kazmir couldn't understand why - even after talking to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who made the call.

"He was saying I started my delivery," Kazmir said after being defeated by the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. "I was just telling him that I stepped off first and went to home plate to talk to (catcher Josh Phegley). But he saw me just going forward and not stepping off."

A's manager Bob Melvin was equally puzzled.

"I didn't see a balk," Melvin said. "To me, he stepped off. That's a big run."

The Royals scored a tying run on the balk, then went ahead for good when Kendrys Morales hit a two-run single in the sixth off Kazmir (4-5) that erased a 2-1 deficit.

Kazmir owned the lowest home ERA in the majors going into the game, but gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"For us to fall two straight to a team like that, it's tough," he said. "They capitalized on it. That's a good team, that's what good teams do."

Chris Young bounced back from his worst start of the season to pitch six innings for Kansas City. Young (7-3) allowed four hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out four.

Ryan Madson and Wade Davis pitched one inning apiece, and Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 16th save.

Sam Fuld doubled for the A's, who were wearing throwback uniforms from 1965 when the franchise was in Kansas City. Oakland has lost two straight after a season-high, five-game winning streak.

"They have good pitching, especially out of the bullpen," Melvin said. "The key today was they got big hits when they needed to and we didn't."

For the second consecutive game, these bitter rivals played without incident. When they played in Kansas City in April, all three games were marred by bench-clearing dustups.

The Royals trailed 2-1 in the sixth before stringing together a walk and two hits. Lorenzo Cain and Hosmer also pulled off a double steal before Morales singled.

Young, who made a throwing error that led to Oakland's first run, won for the third time in four starts.

Fuld doubled leading off the first, alertly stole third against the Royals shifted defense and scored when Young's throw to third sailed wildly into foul territory.

Omar Infante doubled in the third, moved up on a balk by Kazmir and scored on a sacrifice fly by Moustakas.

A two-out throwing error by shortstop Alcides Escobar in the fifth led to an unearned run for the A's in the fifth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura allowed three runs in four innings during his first rehab start for Triple-A Omaha. He has been out since June 13 with ulnar neuritis.

Athletics: OF Billy Burns (hip flexor) rested for a second straight day, but should be available for the series finale. ... Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (strained right shoulder) played catch with his right arm before the game and reported no pain. ... Stephen Vogt was Oakland's DH a day after getting hit in the right wrist by a pitch from Franklin Morales.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (5-5) needs two strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career. Teammate Edinson Volquez reached the milestone Friday.

Athletics: RHP Jesse Chavez (4-6) seeks his third consecutive win. He has never won more than two in a row.

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