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OAK@KC: Guthrie fans eight over seven strong frames

KANSAS CITY -- Maybe Jeremy Guthrie just needed time to get comfortable and settle into his surroundings.

Guthrie turned in a second straight superb pitching performance for the Royals in a 5-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. After losing his first three starts for the Royals, he has logged 15 scoreless innings in his last two outings.

"You're not a No. 1 starter for four years and start Opening Day just for nothing," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I just felt, along with Dayton [Moore, general manager] that three or four starts would get him back on track, and he's definitely on track. You look at it and you see this is not fluky stuff -- it could be extended out, start after start."

From Guthrie's perspective, just the chance to learn from pitching coach Dave Eiland and his new Kansas City teammates was more important than just getting comfortable.

"If I had not been able to come over here and work with those people, I might still be banging my head, making the same mistakes," Guthrie said. "So it wasn't so much about getting settled in as much as it was about getting better and making some adjustments."

The 16,107 fans watched Guthrie, a veteran right-hander, throw seven shutout innings as he held the A's to three hits, all singles. He walked two and struck out eight.

This was Guthrie's fifth start for Kansas City since being obtained from Colorado for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez in a trade of two struggling starting pitchers. Sanchez, 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA in three starts for the Rockies, is now on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis. Guthrie is 2-3 with a 4.03 ERA for the Royals.

His latest victory followed eight shutout innings in a 2-1 win at Chicago last Wednesday.

"Both times I was able to go out and pound the zone, and get ahead of guys and finish them off -- not make mistakes ahead in the count," Guthrie said. "That's been the difference the last two starts."

Guthrie matched zeros with A's rookie Jarrod Parker for four innings.

The Royals interrupted this parade of 0's with a parade of runs -- five to be exact -- in the fifth inning. All nine batters came to the plate and there were two walks, Jeff Francoeur's double, RBI singles by Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, an error and sacrifice flies by Chris Getz and Billy Butler.

After two A's hits in the third inning came to naught, Guthrie was in complete control. He got through the seventh with 102 pitches and turned the game over to the bullpen.

"I listened to my body," he said. "Last game I begged to go back out there in the ninth and tonight I listened to the body, and the body had had enough."

While at Colorado, Guthrie had been hammered by the A's for seven runs on eight hits in an Interleague encounter. That proved a good lesson.

"The nice thing was when I pitched against them earlier in the year, every pitch I threw was the exact wrong pitch at the wrong time," Guthrie said. "So I had a nice blueprint of what not to do."

The A's Brandon Moss, who struck out three times against Guthrie this time after hitting two home runs off him at Coors Field, saw a much more confident pitcher.

"When we were in Denver, it wasn't that he would pitch around, but he did not want to come over the plate with anything," Moss said. "And then here, he goes after you. I think I made contact with one pitch he threw tonight. He just had some late movement on it, and I wasn't picking it up. I think a lot of us weren't. ... He challenged us. He never backed down when he was behind. He came after you and said 'Put it in play,' and a lot of us didn't."

Nor could the A's put anything in play against reliever Tim Collins, who struck out the side on 11 pitches in the eighth inning. That gave him 77 strikeouts, breaking the Royals' record for most strikeouts in a season by a left-handed reliever.

"I'm not going out there to break records," Collins said. "I didn't even know that record existed."

The 5-foot-7 Collins eclipsed the 76 strikeouts by the 6-foot-10 Andrew Sisco in 2005.

"Timmy had phenomenal stuff tonight, too," Yost said. "He came in and had a 95-mile-an-hour fastball. He had his good change and a good breaking ball that he really didn't use that much. He's a kid that's developing into a real fine Major League setup guy. He's a guy that I feel comfortable bringing in against right-handers or left-handers because he's got three quality pitches that he can throw for strikes."

Right-hander Greg Holland completed the shutout, the Royals' ninth this season, with a perfect ninth inning. All four of their wins over the A's this season have been shutouts.

For Guthrie, it's only two victories for the Royals, but they were impressive enough for reporters to wonder if the free agent-to-be might return to Kansas City in 2013.

"Absolutely, this is a place that I thought would be a good fit for me. If I could've hand-picked a team, this is one of two or three that I would have picked this year," he said.

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