KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Danny Duffy pitched superbly into the eighth inning, but Joakim Soria blew another save as the Kansas City Royals’ chances to return to the postseason took another hit.
Pinch hitter Yonder Alonso delivered a two-run double in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics rallied past Kansas City 5-4 Tuesday night, another key loss for the Royals.
The defending World Series champion Royals dropped five games out of the wild-card race with only 18 games left. The Royals have lost six of their past seven home games.
Duffy, who has not won since Aug. 21, limited the A’s to three hits, but two were home runs, in 7 1/3 innings.
“We’re all doing everything we possibly can to claw away at this deficit that we’ve got in the standings,” Duffy said. “We’re all taking it one game at a time. You know things like this happen.”
Soria blew his seventh save chance in eight opportunities. He was summoned with two outs in the eighth and the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead.
On his second pitch, Soria gave up a double to Alonso over the head of center fielder Jarrod Dyson, scoring Brett Eibner and pinch runner Joey Wendle. Soria then yielded an RBI single to Marcus Semien.
“It’s a difficult position when you’re not used to that,” said Soria, who has 203 career saves. “This season has been really, really different to me. I guess in 10 years it can happen sometimes. Unfortunately for me and my team, it happened this year. They need me the most and I’ve been having poor results.”
Rookie Matthew Strahm (2-1), who gave up an infield single to Chad Pinder before Soria replaced him, took the loss.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he did not want to use Kelvin Herrera for a four-out save and Wade Davis was unavailable after throwing nearly 50 pitches in back-to-back saves Saturday and Sunday.
“I had confidence in Jack,” Yost said. “I thought it was a good situation for him. I didn’t mind the matchup with Alonso. Jack’s had two days off. Ultimately, it’s my plan. I’m responsible for my plan. And that was my plan and it didn’t work.”
Will he continue to use Soria in high-level situations?
“I don’t make decisions after games like this,” Yost said. “I haven’t even thought about. I’m not even going to speculate on what I’m going to do, without thinking about it and sleeping on it. Jack’s that guy right now that everybody is on. Jack’s had some really good outings this year and he’s had some poor outings. How do you determine from one day to the next if I put him out there if it’s going to be a good outing or a bad outing. It very easily could have been a good outing. It wasn’t.”
John Axford (6-4) pitched one inning. Ryan Madson balked home Dyson with two outs in the ninth before closing for his 30th save in 36 tries.
Duffy gave up a home run to Khris Davis on his first pitch in the fifth. Davis has homered in back-to-back games and hiked his season total to 37, the most by an Athletics player since Frank Thomas hit 39 in 2006.
“My gosh that guy has some kind of pop,” Duffy said. “I don’t even know if he picked up his feet, but it still went about 600 feet. He’s got 37 home runs for a reason. I just need to make a better there.”
Ryon Healy homered to lead off the eighth. After Duffy walked Eibner with one out, he was replaced by Strahm.
“I can’t walk Eibner there,” Duffy said. “I can’t leave that pitch over to Healy, who hit the bomb in the eighth. I can’t do that. I’ve got to get through that eighth.”
Paulo Orlando hit a two-run single in the fourth to score Cheslor Cuthbert, who had doubled, and Alcides Escobar, who reached on Semien’s error.
Semien has committed 11 errors in the past 53 games and tops major league shortstops with 19 fielding miscues.
Escobar’s two-out single in the sixth scored Salvador Perez and chased Jharel Cotton, who was making his second big league start since being acquired in an Aug. 1 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cotton allowed three runs, only one earned, in 5 2/3 innings, while walking one and striking out two.
Royals DH Kendrys Morales went 0 for 3, snapping his season-high 14 game hitting streak and a career best streak of seven straight games with a RBI.
A’s manager Bob Melvin stopped by the Chiefs’ practice Tuesday. He is a friend of Chiefs coach Andy Reed. The manager’s cousin, Tom Melvin, coaches the Chiefs tight ends.
Royals: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (right biceps tendinitis) is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday. “I don’t think it will be tomorrow, but he’s definitely making progress,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. . Perez returned to the lineup after missing the game Tuesday for the birth of his second son, Johan Salvador.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea will make his first start since Aug. 29 when he left after 3 1/3 innings with strained left rhomboid muscles in the shoulder blade.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura gave up a season-high 10 hits over seven innings in a loss Friday to the White Sox.