Having cooled off the Kansas City Royals for the moment, the Oakland Athletics now hope Scott Kazmir can get back on track.
Plagued by one poor inning in each of his last two outings, the All-Star left-hander tries to avoid losing a fourth straight start to the Royals on Wednesday night.
Josh Donaldson homered twice and had four RBIs and Brandon Moss added four hits as Oakland (73-46) pounded out a season-high 20 to snap Kansas City's eight-game winning streak with an 11-3 victory Tuesday.
The loss was the fourth in 20 games for the Royals (64-54), who remain a half-game ahead of second-place Detroit in the AL Central.
'We play 162 of these and you take them for what it's worth," losing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said.
Owners of the majors' best record, the A's helped Jon Lester improve to 3-0 with his new club by breaking out after totaling three runs and nine hits while losing the previous two.
'It helps when you have contributors up and down the lineup,' Donaldson said. 'We believe that it's going to happen more times than not."
Kazmir (13-4, 2.73 ERA) has posted a 6.39 ERA while splitting two starts since going 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his previous five.
The first of those two came Aug. 3 versus Kansas City, when he allowed 10 hits total and all four runs in the fifth inning while lasting six in a 4-2 home defeat. Kazmir has a 6.60 ERA in his last three against the Royals.
He followed that performance by giving up all five runs during a seventh inning he never finished in a 6-5 victory over Minnesota on Friday.
Kazmir, though, has allowed three runs on two homers over 17 1-3 innings to go 2-0 in his last three road outings. However, he is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in four at Kansas City since posting his only win in nine starts at Kauffman Stadium on June 2, 2010.
Josh Willingham went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts Tuesday in his first game since Kansas City acquired him from Minnesota on Monday.
"I'm going to try to mix in, do my part and try not to get in the way too much," he told MLB's official website.
Willingham, who hit .210 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 68 games for the Twins, is 3 for 17 with two doubles and seven strikeouts versus Kazmir.
After allowing seven runs - four earned - in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss at Oakland on Aug. 2 in his return from missing almost a month following an appendectomy, Jason Vargas (8-5, 3.48) gave up two runs and nine hits in five innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 win over San Francisco on Friday.
"He's just still not quite sharp after his surgery," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "My whole focus was to get him through the fifth inning ahead or at least tied."
Donaldson is batting .406 in his last nine games, but is 1 for 20 with a homer against the left-hander.
Kansas City's Billy Butler is 4 for 19 against the A's this season, but 10 for 29 versus Kazmir.
The Associated Press News Service
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