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Paulino shuts down A's as Royals win 2-0

Paulino shuts down A's as Royals win 2-0

June 1st, 2012 by DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer in News

Kansas City Royals starter Felipe Paulino pitches to an Oakland Athletics batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, June 1, 2012.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Felipe Paulino kept the scuffling Athletics at bay for six innings Friday night, and the Kansas City Royals' bullpen handled the rest in a 2-0 victory that gave Oakland its season-worst ninth straight loss.

Yuniesky Betancourt came off the disabled list to provide an RBI double in the first, and Mike Moustakas added an RBI blooper to left later in the inning, helping Kansas City win for only the sixth time in 23 games at Kauffman Stadium this season.

Paulino (3-1) has emerged as the ace of the Royals' haphazard starting rotation, holding the opposition off the scoreboard through six innings for the fourth time in six starts.

He allowed three hits against Oakland while striking out five and walking three.

Both of the Royals' runs were charged to Bartolo Colon (4-6), who recovered from a sloppy start to last seven innings - an encouraging outing after going 1-3 with a 7.92 ERA in May.

Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save.

The A's have been shut out six times in their last 16 games, and have been outscored 39-12 during their current losing streak. They came into the night ranked last in the majors in batting average (.210) and slugging percentage (.338), and second-to-last in on-base percentage and runs.

The Royals nearly added to their first-inning cushion, but Alcides Escobar grounded out to leave two runners aboard in the first. Kansas City also left a runner in scoring position in the second inning before failing twice to plate a run with the bases loaded in the third.

Colon was brilliant over the next four innings, allowing only a two-out single by Escobar in the sixth and a leadoff single by Humberto Quintero in the seventh.

The problem for Oakland was that Paulino was just as good.

The right-hander wasn't particularly efficient, burning through 94 pitches in six innings, yet he managed to keep a struggling Oakland lineup off balance all night.

Jemile Weeks led off the game with a groundball double that just skipped past Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, but Paulino came back to retire the next eight in order.

He also helped himself by cutting down a couple of Oakland base runners.

The first came with two outs in the third inning, when Weeks took off early attempting to steal third. Paulino whirled around and threw to Moustakas covering the bag.

The second out on the base paths came in the fourth, when Yoenis Cespedes was caught drifting too far off first. Paulino picked him off for the second out of the inning.

He set the A's down in order in the fifth and sixth before turning it over to the Kansas City bullpen, which has been stellar most of the season. Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect seventh and Greg Holland worked around a one-out walk before handing the game to Broxton in the ninth.

Notes: Cespedes (strained left hand) came off the DL to go 0 for 4. ... Betancourt (right ankle sprain) went 1 for 4 in his return from the DL. INF Irving Falu was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to clear space for him. ... Royals LHP Everett Teaford (lower abdominal strain) said he felt good after throwing BP. He plans to throw a bullpen session Monday before a rehab assignment. ... Brandon McCarthy will start for Oakland on Saturday against the Royals' Luke Hochevar.