OAKLAND, Calif. — James Shields pitched quite a gem for Kansas City. It certainly helped that Oakland abandoned its usual patient approach at the plate.
Shields pitched eight sharp innings for his first win in nearly a month, and the Royals beat the Athletics 4-2 on Sunday.
"This team was a free-hacking team today, which is not really their game," Shields said. "They have a bunch of hitters over there that were being aggressive, and I was able to execute my pitches early in the count."
Shields retired his first 15 batters before Josh Reddick hit a leadoff homer in the sixth. Alberto Callaspo then had a one-out single before Sam Fuld lined into a double play.
The 32-year-old Shields (10-6) allowed two runs and four hits. He walked none for the fifth time this season.
"You watch the way that he's pitching, it's like, 'OK boys, let's just give him a couple runs, and he'll take it from there,'" Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "A good indicator for him was he was managing his pitch count."
Shields threw 102 pitches to help the Royals to their ninth win in 12 games.
"As far as I'm concerned we can match up with anyone, any team, any starting rotation," Shields said. "As long as we go toe-to-toe with those guys, we're going to be in every game."
Reddick homered twice, getting to Shields again in the eighth.
The A's have the best record in baseball at 67-43, but the team has sputtered offensively since trading cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes to Boston on Thursday in a deal for ace Jon Lester. They lead the stacked AL West by one game over the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Tampa Bay 7-5 on Sunday.
Oakland was without injured leadoff hitter Coco Crisp, though it hardly mattered the way Shields was pitching.
Shields allowed only three balls out of the infield through the first five innings. One of them was a deep fly to center by Josh Donaldson in the first, the closest Oakland came to getting a man on base before Reddick's home run.
"We just haven't been our best offensively here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Shields was using all his pitches, going to the change, to the cutter, and he had good command."
Shields got his first win since he beat his former team, Tampa Bay, on July 7. Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his AL-leading 31st save.
Nori Aoki's RBI single in the fifth gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead. Omar Infante followed with a two-run double and later scored on a single by Salvador Perez.
All the runs came against Scott Kazmir (12-4).
Reddick has four home runs since coming off the disabled list July 22. It's the sixth multihomer game of his career and second this season.