Barton delivers as A's gain confidence
Oakland rallies for second straight win over Kansas City
OAKLAND -- Daric Barton feels it. The Athletics are a close-knit, confident bunch. It's starting to show up in the box score.Barton singled, doubled and tripled as the A's came from behind to beat the Royals, 6-5, on Saturday. Barton's RBI triple in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner. "We always have people on base," Barton said after getting a hit in his fifth straight game. "We just need hits at the right time. If we continue to get guys on base, we're going to score. It doesn't matter who is pitching. There's nobody we can't beat." Barton said that level of confidence began in Spring Training, as the A's focused on playing team baseball. He's certainly been a vital part, hitting .421 during his recent streak. Barton helped the A's break through against Royals starter Zack Greinke, who has been virtually impossible to hit against this season and in Oakland over his career. Barton's leadoff double in the fifth sparked a three-run rally that brought the A's within one run. Emil Brown, who also is on a five-game hitting streak (.429 during stretch), drove in the first run. Greinke looked sharp through four innings, but the A's got to him for three runs on three hits, a walk and an error in the fifth. Ryan Sweeney, who had two hits in the game, and Bobby Crosby also drove in runs. Sweeney drove in the tying run in the sixth, and Kurt Suzuki singled home the then go-ahead run in the seventh. "The hits are starting to fall in, and we're gaining confidence," Suzuki said. "You just don't want to make things too complicated. It all comes down to seeing the ball and hitting the ball." Joey Devine (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory, as the A's won their second straight game. Devine has not allowed a run in five games and 7 1/3 innings this year. "The biggest thing is to stay consistent," Devine said. "That has to be the focus. There are a lot of adjustments to make, and you use what got you here and pitch to your strengths." Alan Embree got the first two outs of the eighth, and Huston Street went the rest of the way for his fifth save. "Joey Devine was impressive again," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He's throwing in the low- to mid-90s and has a pretty late breaking ball. With his addition to a bullpen that has been pitching well, it lessens the load for everybody." The A's bullpen had gone 18 2/3 innings without allowing a run before Street coughed up John Buck's RBI single in the ninth. Mark Ellis and Brown each added two hits for Oakland. Kansas City's Joel Peralta (0-1) was tagged with the loss. Oakland starter Greg Smith rebounded nicely from a rough start, during which he gave up Jose Guillen's three-run home run in the first inning and Miguel Olivo's leadoff homer in the second. After allowing four runs on four hits through the first seven hitters, Smith struck out four and allowed two singles in his final 13 batters. "In the first two innings, I didn't have the best control," said Smith, the rookie lefty who made his first start at home. "Early on, it was location. The home runs were missed spots, and I have to focus on that early in the game. Location has to be my strong suit. I was leaving the ball up. This was the first time throwing off this mound, and it took a couple of batters to get used to it." The A's committed an error for the 12th straight game, matching their fourth-longest such streak and the longest since 1985. Barton dropped a foul popup that led to Olivo's home run in the second. "Errors don't matter unless the guy hits a stupid home run on the next pitch," said Barton. "You never feel good when you make an error, but you have to have a short memory and get over it." Barton more than made up for it, as he's now reached base in 16 of 19 games this season. The A's played their seventh one-run game, improving to 4-3 in those situations.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.