Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Billy Butler's two-run single capped a deciding seventh-inning burst, as the Kansas City Royals claimed a 7-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the finale of a four-game series between AL division leaders.
Jarrod Dyson and Norichika Aoki also drove in two runs for the Royals, who finished their seven-game homestand with a 6-1 mark. They remained a half-game up in the AL Central on Detroit, which topped Pittsburgh earlier on Thursday.
"This is what we want," said Dyson. "We want to go up against the best in the business. When you are making a playoff push you want to face great pitching, you want to face a great hitting club."
Aaron Crow (6-1) recorded the final out of the seventh for the win. Greg Holland notched the last two outs of the contest to earn his 36th save.
Alberto Callaspo drove in two, while Josh Reddick doubled, tripled and knocked in the other run for the Athletics, who slid to their fourth loss in five outings.
Jeff Samardzija (3-2) allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits over 6 1/3 frames.
"We knew exactly who we were playing when we were coming in here," A's first baseman Stephen Vogt said. "Their pitching staff is one of the best in baseball and their lineup, they grind out at-bats. They're kind of similar to us in that no one is going to come out and wow you."
The Royals' deciding rally was begun by a one-out single from Erik Kratz, then Christian Colon followed with a double and Samardzija was replaced by Ryan Cook. Dyson's single scored one and Aoki's triple brought in Colon and Dyson to give the hosts a 5-3 edge.
Alcides Escobar walked and Fernando Abad was called on to fan Alex Gordon, ahead of Luke Gregerson giving up the two-run hit from Butler which provided a four-run edge to Kansas City.
The A's didn't go down without a fight, putting two on against Wade Davis, who kept the visitors off the board by fanning Callaspo to end the eighth.
Eric Sogard and Coco Crisp singled off Jason Frasor in the ninth, then Holland walked Josh Donaldson with two away to load the bases before inducing a fly out from Brandon Moss to end the game.
Kratz began the home third with a single, went to third on a Colon single compounded by a Callaspo error, then scored on Dyson's sacrifice fly to center.
Oakland equalized in the fourth as Moss singled, Reddick doubled and Callaspo's sac fly to left brought in Moss.
Mike Moustakas' two-out single in the home fourth scored Gordon and pushed KC back in front, but the A's came back with two in the sixth on Reddick's triple to score Vogt and Callaspo's hit to bring in Reddick.
Kansas City has taken five of seven meetings with its former AL West rivals ... Colon finished with three hits, as did Vogt ... Royals starter James Shields worked six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk ... Cook was charged with three runs on two hits while failing to retire a batter. Including his stat line, Oakland's bullpen has surrendered 10 runs in 12 1/3 innings over the last six games.