"It was going to take the offense to loosen things up a little bit," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've had so many games where we just haven't scored, put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff. It's good that we can contribute offensively and then add on [something] on top of it. There've been games recently where we did score a run or two early. We have not been able to add on after that. So that was a relief."
The big inning was the fifth, where the A's -- already leading 2-1 -- put together a two-out rally that led to four runs and chased Royals starter Luke Hochevar from the game. With runners at the corners and two outs, Josh Reddick lined a ball into the right-center-field gap for a triple, scoring both runs and increasing the Oakland lead to 4-1.
Yoenis Cespedes followed the big hit with a bloop single into right field that scored Reddick and, after a pitching change, Kila Ka'aihue doubled to bring home Cespedes. After reliever Tim Collins struck out Brandon Inge to end the inning, the A's lead had ballooned to 6-1.
Another two-out rally came later, in the eighth. This time, the A's lead was 6-3, and Kurt Suzuki walked, while Cliff Pennington made it to second on a two-base error by Yuniesky Betancourt. After a pitching change, Adam Rosales -- who replaced second baseman Jemile Weeks after a hip injury -- drove in both runners with a single, increasing the lead to 8-3. The inning kept on humming along, and Rosales came in to score two batters later on an error by Alcides Escobar, making it 9-3.
"We hadn't done that in a while. It was a great feeling in the dugout," Reddick said. "The dugout atmosphere was a lot better today than it has been in 12 games, even before we started that losing streak. So that was good, just to have a loud dugout for once."
Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy picked up the victory in his return from the disabled list, improving his record to 4-3. He threw six innings and allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks. Melvin explained why McCarthy's outing lasted just six innings.
"I wasn't going to let him throw 80 pitches today. I was hoping for five and got six. That's what he does," Melvin said. "He's a strike machine. That's what works for him. He gets ahead, and he's a lot more unpredictable when he's ahead."
"He was huge. A lot of people were saying we needed him back. We know he's going to go out there and throw strikes. I remember looking up in the fourth or fifth inning, and he'd only thrown 10 balls at that point," Reddick said. "That was a big pickup for us, for him to come out here, especially fresh off the DL, and do what he's been doing for us all year."
The two teams traded runs in the first inning. Weeks led off the game with a triple and scored on a Collin Cowgill groundout, snapping the A's 19-inning scoreless streak. Jeff Francoeur drove in Alex Gordon in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 1.
The A's took the lead for good in the top of the fourth. Cespedes picked up his first hit since returning from the DL by doubling to center field, and he advanced to third when Jarrod Dyson had trouble picking up the ball. After nearly being picked off during the next at-bat, Cespedes came home to score on a Hochevar wild pitch.
Kansas City plated runs in both the sixth and seventh, on an Eric Hosmer double and a Betancourt sacrifice fly, respectively.
McCarthy picked up some defensive help in that sixth inning. Following the Hosmer double, Escobar lifted a fly ball to right field, which was caught by Cowgill. Francoeur, the runner at third, tagged and went home. Cowgill made the throw to the plate and Suzuki lunged to try and tag Francoeur. Suzuki didn't appear to touch Francoeur, who made a leaping effort to avoid the tag, but the Royals outfielder was called out at home, ending the inning.
Francoeur and manager Ned Yost argued their case with home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber, and the short fuses continued into the next inning. Royals catcher Humberto Quintero was ejected for arguing with the home-plate umpire, and Yost and Schrieber shared an animated conversation, as well.
"You saw it on film. I never got tagged," Francoeur said. "I told [Schrieber] behind the plate, 'I'm not going to argue a tag. If you tag me, I understand. But I could feel him, and he missed me by six inches.' I came up to bat the next time and [Schrieber] said, 'He didn't tag you,' so I guess [Suzuki] had told him he didn't tag me. So I guess he knows now, but it's after the fact."
For Reddick and the A's, all that mattered was the win -- and the fact that the losing streak was over.
"Overall, just happy to get out of here with a 'W' and not have to walk back into the locker room," Reddick said. "Get to walk out on the field for once. We forgot what that was like."