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Gathright helps Royals take first game of doubleheader

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Seeing third baseman Jack Hannahan playing back, Joey Gathright squared around to bunt. Oakland's coaches yelled out to Hannahan to move in, so Kansas City's speedy outfielder changed tactics.

Gathright lined a run-scoring single just past a diving Hannahan in the 10th inning, helping the Royals open a doubleheader with a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics in front of a sparse crowd Thursday night.

"I heard them yelling at him, so he came in and that just took the bunt away," Gathright said. "I knew I was going to get a sinker, so I just tried to stay inside it and it got through."

With the game tied at 4, the Royals brought in closer Joakim Soria (2-3), who went two innings, giving up one hit in the 10th.

Esteban German then reached on shortstop Bobby Crosby's throwing error leading off the bottom half and moved to second on David DeJesus' sacrifice. Joey Devine (4-1) intentionally walked Mike Aviles and Gathright, a defensive replacement in the ninth inning, slapped a single just inside the third-base bag for Kansas City's fourth win in 16 games.

"More of a defensive move, obviously, but the plan worked out for us offensively," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.

The remnants of Hurricane Gustav washed out Wednesday's game, leading to Oakland's first doubleheader since being swept in Kansas City on Aug. 18, 2006.

Not many people made it to the first game.

A 4:10 p.m. start, continued cool weather and two teams a combined 33 games under .500 made for a crowd better suited for a rec league softball game, with a few hundred fans scattered around 38,030-seat Kauffman Stadium for the first pitch.

A few more showed up later and got to see Royals starter Brian Bannister's run of bad luck continue.

The right-hander had been stuck in a miserable stretch, going 0-8 with a 7.99 ERA his previous 11 outings. He came close to ending the streak his last start, allowing two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against Texas, only to drop a popup that led to the eventual winning run.

Another error hurt Bannister this time, too.

Leading 4-0 in the fifth, Bannister looked like he was about to get out of a jam when Ryan Sweeney hit into an apparent inning-ending double play. Instead, shortstop Aviles mishandled the grounder. Crosby followed with a run-scoring single and Jack Cust hit a two-run double.

Daric Barton tied it at 4 with a leadoff homer in the sixth, the 10th off Bannister in his last five outings. Bannister breezed through the seventh and didn't come out for the eighth, still winless since June 23 despite allowing one earned run and seven hits.

"When you don't strike guys out and put a lot of balls in play, stuff like that can happen," Bannister said. "I just tried to stay tough and that inning went longer than I wanted it to. I threw that one pitch to Barton where he likes it, otherwise was aggressive all night."

A's starter Dana Eveland had been solid since his return to the big leagues on Aug. 21, allowing two earned runs in 14 innings over two starts. He pitched well again -- except for one inning.

The left-hander started the third inning by getting German to fly out, then gave up six straight hits, leading to four runs. Eveland settled in after that, allowing 10 hits in six innings and not walking a batter after issuing 21 walks in his previous seven starts.

"Best stuff I've had all year," Eveland said. "I was throwing all four pitches for strikes, down in the strike zone. I only gave up a few hard-hit balls, really, tonight. I felt really good and happy to see the team scoring some runs for me and was hoping to go back out there in the seventh, but the manager makes the decision."

Notes: Kansas City's Miguel Olivo was 2-for-4 to end an 0-for-12 streak. ... Oakland set a franchise record with its 30th pickoff in the fourth inning, when Eveland caught German off first base. ... Mike Sweeney was 0-for-5 in his first game as a visiting player at Kauffman after spending his first 11½ seasons with the Royals.