OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jeff Francoeur looks forward to returning to the Midwest. He’s had enough with West Coast baseball.Francoeur drove in a run but also struck out four times and Kansas City had a season-high 16 strikeouts in the Royals’ 8-4 setback to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
“I accounted for a fourth of those strikeouts,” Francoeur said. “It was one of those days when guys were throwing the ball hard and were chasing it. We were never able to get the one hit to get some pressure on them. Frankly I’m looking forward to getting off the West Coast. I much prefer the Midwest.”
Francoeur went 1 for 5 and is now 2 for 20 with seven strikeouts on the road trip.
A’s starter Gio Gonzalez (6-5), suffering from the flu, allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out 10.
“Gio Gonzalez was pounding strikes and we’re not a big strikeout team and striking out 16 times, you don’t see that very often,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “This was just one of those days.”
Royals starter Jeff Francis (3-7) wasn’t nearly as good as his last appearance. He gave up a season-high six runs on nine hits over 3 1-3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. He walked two and did not strike out a batter in a game for the first time.
“Jeff wasn’t quite as sharp as he has been,” Yost said. “His last start in Anaheim he threw the ball really well. He was real sharp. This wasn’t near as sharp. He didn’t have it. Our offence didn’t have it. It just wasn’t our day.”
Melky Cabrera had two hits and drove in a run for the Royals, who lost their second straight. Wilson Betemit and Brayan Pena each added an RBI.
“I’m just trying to throw strikes,” Francis said. “I was falling behind guys in certain situations and that doesn’t do me any good. When I did throw a good pitch they put some good swings on them.”
Jemile Weeks had two hits and drove in three runs, and Hideki Matsui homered to lead the A’s. Matsui’s solo blast gives him a combined 499 homers in Japan and the U.S. and helped Oakland win a second straight game for the first time since a four-game streak May 26-29.
“It was a home run all the way,” Francis said. “It wasn’t a good pitch but he did a good job of hitting it over the fence.”
Daric Barton drove in two runs, and Coco Crisp and Kurt Suzuki each had an RBI in support of Gonzalez, who ended a personal three-game slide for his first win since May 17.
Francis had won three of his previous four decisions.
Matsui led off the third with his sixth home run of the season and third in seven games after going homerless in his previous 23 games. Barton later added his second RBI of the game.
“I don’t know the time difference but I’m pretty sure a lot of people in Japan will be watching,” Melvin said.
The Royals scored twice in the fifth to make it 6-2 on Cabrera’s single and Francoeur’s double.
Weeks singled home a run in the bottom of the fifth and Suzuki doubled home a run in the seventh.
Betemit and Pena each doubled in a run for the Royals in the eighth.
Notes: Francis has not won consecutive road starts since 2007. He has a 6.93 ERA away from Kansas City. … Barton tied Sean Casey for most games to start a season without a home run by a first baseman at 63. … Melvin plans to give Matsui a start in each of the series played in National League parks during interleague play. … Cabrera has a hit in 12 of his past 14 games. … A’s right fielder Conor Jackson had a hit and walked against Francis, improving to .436 (17 for 39) against the left-hander.
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