Tommy Milone spun 8 1/3 stellar innings to help the Oakland Athletics beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.
Milone (8-7) had a two-hit shutout broken up in the ninth inning with one out. He yielded three runs on six hits with four strikeouts.
Grant Balfour was able to work out of what could have been a disastrous ninth inning to move to a perfect 22-for-22 in save opportunities. He tied Dennis Eckersley's club record with his 40th successful save with the A's.
"It's an accomplishment," Balfour said of tying the record. "It's not something that I set out to do. It just happened."
Coco Crisp had three RBI while Josh Reddick finished with a double, triple and three runs scored for the A's, winners in seven of their last nine games.
Wade Davis (4-7), who gave up six runs in one-plus innings in his previous outing, rebounded to give up three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings.
Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar each recorded an RBI for the Royals, who have scored just eight runs in four games -- all losses -- against the A's this season.
"Really couldn't get anything going the first eight innings," Royals manager Ned Yost admitted. "Finally put together an attack there in the ninth inning but by then the game was kind of out of hand a little bit."
Milone took a six-run lead into the final frame with his first career shutout just in reach until he ran into some trouble for the first time of the night.
After recording the first out, David Lough and Escobar hit consecutive doubles to put Kansas City's first run on the board. Hosmer followed with an RBI single to center to score Escobar. Billy Butler chased Milone from the mound with a single. Perez welcomed Balfour with a single to plate Hosmer and bring the tying run to the plate. Balfour was able to get the next two batters to ground out to secure the victory.
Oakland opened the scoring in the third after Eric Sogard slapped a ball that dropped in front of left fielder Lough, whose throw to the plate was off target which allowed Reddick to score. Reddick doubled with one out to get on base.
The A's added two more in the fifth when Reddick stroked a triple into the right-field gap to plate John Jaso. Reddick scored two batters later on a Crisp sacrifice fly to left.
With what seemed to be insurance runs at the time, Oakland's three runs in the ninth turned out to be the difference.
Brandon Moss singled, then stole second to begin the ninth. Jaso singled to right to put runners on the corner with one out. Reddick hit a routine sacrifice fly to left fielder Lorenzo Cain, who misjudged the ball and went right past his glove to allow Moss to score. Crisp's single up the middle scored two to make it 6-0.
Butler has reached base safely in 32 consecutive games with a single in the ninth ... Oakland has a 35-18 record in night games, which is the best mark in the majors ... The A's finished 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position, while Kansas City went 3-for-5 ... Oakland is now a season-high 15 games above .500 ... The A's have clinched a winning record before the All- Star Break for the first time since 2008.