"Losing's tough as it is, but this one was a little harder tonight," Royals catcher Drew Butera said.
After Kansas City had its first four batters reach base, which gave it three runs in a flash, the Royals' offense went dormant through the seventh, with Lorenzo Cain's third-inning single giving the club its only baserunner in 21 batters. In the eighth, Butera and Eric Hosmer hit two-run homers and Mike Moustakas added a solo blast to give the Royals an 8-4 lead entering the bottom half.
"We did a great job," manager Ned Yost said of team's five-run performance at the plate. "Going into the eighth, you feel pretty good with a four-run lead and a rested 'pen. We just couldn't contain them."
Right-hander Joakim Soria came in for the bottom half and struggled to finish off batters, giving up four straight two-strike hits and two runs to start the inning.
"He was getting ahead of all the hitters," Yost said of Soria. "He just didn't have his good changeup tonight. That's a pretty big out pitch for him. He just struggled to put guys away."
Soria struck out A's third baseman Matt Chapman for his lone out before Yost went to left-hander Mike Minor. Minor threw a wild pitch but got Chad Pinder to strike out before intentionally walking Rajai Davis, setting up a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Matt Joyce.
"The wild pitch definitely put you in a position where you had to make a decision," Yost said. "You're going with the higher percentage matchup there. Minor, lefties are hitting .130 off him. Joyce is hitting .213 off of lefties. It's just a much higher percentage matchup."
After taking a slider away for a ball, Joyce connected on an outside fastball and drove it off the left-field wall, clearing the bases and giving the A's back the lead.
"I thought it was a good pitch. The only thing I could say is that it was up," Minor said. "I thought it was where I wanted it, on the outer fourth of the plate, on the corner. But it was up and he put a good swing on it.
"It's difficult to swallow. Trying to pick up your teammate, pick up your team and try to get out of the inning, and I can't."
After posting an MLB-best 2.00 ERA in 94 1/3 innings in July, the Royals' bullpen has allowed 36 earned runs in 46 2/3 innings in August, with a 6.94 ERA, which is second-worst in baseball. Minor said it's hard to explain what's gone wrong.
"We've had some bad luck and we've run into St. Louis, who was hot," Minor said. "We've made good pitches, I feel like. We just haven't gotten rewarded. The mistakes that we've maybe got away with earlier in the year, we're not getting away with now."