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Royals Erupt For 5 Runs In 9th!!! (To Lose By Less)

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It was a kind of ordinary, and frankly quite pleasant, game through 8 innings, with the A's leading 6-1. Then Jack Cust bombed a 3-run HR -- the A's 3rd HR of the game -- to make it a laugher. Or...To give the A's the runs they would need to stave off a late Royals' charge of 5 runs off of Brad Ziegler, Cedrick Bowers, Jerry Blevins, and finally Andrew Bailey, summoned to throw one pitch and earn his 20th save.

For all his attention to sabermetric strategies, Brian Bannister did not employ them well, walking 6 and hitting a batter, and allowing HRs to Adam Rosales and Kevin Kouzmanoff, in 6.2 IP. Vin Mazzaro, meanwhile, allowed a run in the 1st inning and nothing more, cruising for a career high 7.2 IP of 7 hit, one run ball, walking just one and striking out 7 to earn his fifth win and drop his ERA down to 3.50. Not bad for the A's #7 starter coming out of spring training.

So the A's are back to .500, having won 5 in a row, coming home to test their legitimacy against their one achilles heel: Teams that don't suck. If you like socks of various colors this homestand is right up your alley, as the A's will host first the Red Sox and then the White Sox -- two teams with winning records who have a sense of urgency about their place in a hotly contested 3-way division race.

We'll learn a lot about the A's this coming week.