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KC@BAL: Smith pitches seven frames of two-run ball

The last time right-hander Brandon McCarthy took the mound, the A's had just lost their lead in the American League Wild Card race. They haven't gotten it back yet.

After falling to the Royals, 5-0, on Tuesday, the A's are still in second place, five games behind the Rangers in the AL West, but are 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the Wild Card race. After setting a franchise record by going 19-5 in July, the A's are just 5-7 in August.

The Royals will send rookie left-hander Will Smith to the mound against McCarthy and the A's on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

In his first start since coming off the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, McCarthy turned in his 10th quality start in 13 starts this season. He gave up three runs on six hits, striking out four and walking one while throwing 60 of his 85 pitches for strikes in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox on Friday. McCarthy, who is 6-3, was 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts before landing on the DL on June 24.

"In the same way you get rewarded in Oakland pitching, here sometimes they get rewarded by just squaring the ball up a little bit, but those still aren't good pitches," McCarthy said after his last outing. "I wasn't as sharp as I'd like and didn't command as well as I'd like. My cutter wasn't great. Everything just kind of went up and down as the game went along, so it was kind of hard to settle into a comfortable groove. But it was good to get back in the groove."

Since losing two of three against the Rangers at home earlier this month, the Royals are on their way toward going three straight series without a series loss. They won two of three games against the White Sox and split a four-game series against the Orioles as the Royals are 8-5 this month and have won five of their last seven games.

In eight starts this season, Smith is 3-4 with a 5.48 ERA and delivered one of his best performances in his last outing. He gave up two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking three over seven innings, tying a season-high, while throwing 59 of 99 strikes in a 8-2 win over the Orioles on Thursday.

"The last time I was up here, things were moving too fast for me," Smith admitted after his last start. "I couldn't slow things down, but I went down to Triple-A and worked with [pitching coach Doug] Henry on slowing the game down, and now it's a little easier when the crowd starts roaring when they're scoring a run."

Athletics: Inge lands on disabled list
Brandon Inge was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a sprained right shoulder. He suffered the injury while diving for a ball down the third-base line during the A's 9-7 win over the White Sox on Saturday. He drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the eighth of that victory after hurting himself and did not play on Sunday. Inge was batting .216 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 82 games before landing on the DL.

"He'd try to go out there with a bone sticking out of his skin, so we have to be careful," manager Bob Melvin said. "He has a very high threshold for pain. But the doctor doesn't think this is going to be a five- or six- or seven-day thing."

Josh Donaldson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and is expected to take over for Inge as the A's everyday third baseman.

• Dallas Braden, who has not pitched since last April, will undergo exploratory on his left shoulder. He is recovering from a surgery he had last May. Braden, who tossed a perfect game in a win over the Rays in 2010, is not eligible for free agency until 2014.

Royals: Betancourt put on release waivers
Infielder Yuniesky Betancourt was placed on unconditional release waivers on Tuesday. Acquired from the Mariners during the 2010 season and dealt to the Brewers in a trade that sent Zack Grienke to Milwaukee the following year, Beatncourt was unhappy with his playing time before being designated for assignment on Aug. 5. He was batting .228 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 57 games this season.

Worth noting
• The Royals did not homer in their 5-0 win over the A's on Tuesday, breaking a string of eight games in a row where they had hit at least one home run. The A's had allowed home runs in each of their previous five games.

• Despite losing three of their last four games, the A's are tied with the Rays for the AL's best record since the All-Star break at 18-11.

• Inge became the 19th A's player to be placed on the DL. Those 19 players have combined to miss 715 games this year, compared to 15 A's that missed a collective 705 games while on the DL last season.

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