OAKLAND, Calif. — The Kansas City Royals got another stellar effort from a starting pitcher and had nothing to show for it.
That's to be expected when the offense is struggling the way Kansas City's is.
One day after James Shields pitched eight strong innings in a series-opening one-run loss to Oakland, Ervin Santana nearly matched him but got very little support in a 2-1 loss to the Athletics on Saturday night.
"He really threw the ball good (but) right now there is no room for error for any of (our pitchers) out there," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We had great opportunities. We just didn't capitalize."
Santana (3-3) outpitched Oakland starter Tommy Milone for most of the night but was denied in his third attempt at earning his 100th career victory. He allowed only three baserunners through the first five innings and gave up just four hits total.
That wasn't surprising since Santana has historically pitched well at the Oakland Coliseum. The former Angels pitcher went into the game carrying a 2.08 ERA over 12 outings on the A's home turf.
With little run support, however, his effort was wasted.
The Royals failed to score after loading the bases against Milone with no outs in the second. They also stranded a runner at third with one out in the fourth.
Kansas City had the tying run on base in the ninth after Eric Hosmer drew a leadoff walk but A's closer Grant Balfour retired the next three batters on flyouts.
"We had bases loaded with no outs and we could not score," Santana said. "In the end, that's how it is."
Billy Butler singled twice and drove in the only run for Kansas City, which has lost nine of 12.
Alex Gordon put the Royals up 1-0 in the first when he doubled with two outs and scored on Billy Butler's bloop single.
The Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the second but Milone got out of it without allowing a run. Elliott Johnson fouled out to Moss near the Kansas City dugout before Milone struck out Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar.
"That was the turning point in the game," said Butler, who had two of Kansas City's five hits. "(Milone) shouldn't have gone that deep. We had chances. Bases loaded, no outs ... you're supposed to capitalize on that."
Milone worked out of trouble again in the third when he gave up a leadoff double to Salvador Perez before retiring the next three batters.
The missed opportunities were magnified when Oakland scored twice in the sixth.
Brandon Moss, mired in a 4-for-30 slump, hit a tiebreaking triple over the head of Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain to drive in Coco Crisp, who had walked. Eric Sogard started the inning with a leadoff double and scored on Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly.
The A's had just five hits and were held to two runs for the third consecutive game but made it hold up in front of a rare sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum.
Milone (4-5) walked three and had four strikeouts but overcame his uneven performance to win for the first time since April 15. Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his eighth save.