Nori Aoki and Billy Butler each drove in two runs in a five-run seventh and the Royals rallied to defeat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 Thursday, maintaining their half game lead over Detroit, who also won over Pittsburgh.
Aoki’s two-run triple put the Royals ahead 5-3. Butler’s single scored Aoki and Alcides Escobar. Jarrod Dyson hit an RBI single to right for the first run of the inning.
Jeff Samardzija took the loss, giving up four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Ryan Cook failed to hold it, facing three batters and all scored.
Starter James Shields gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings and has a 1.94 ERA in his past eight starts. Greg Holland earned the final two outs for his 36th save in 38 opportunities. Aaron Crow picked up the victory, retiring the only batter he faced.
The Royals have won 18 of 22 to move 12 games above .500 for the first time since July 20, 2003.