Royals try to give Shields support in opener at Oakland

James Shields has put together plenty of strong outings this season for the Kansas City Royals, but victories have still been hard to come by.

The Royals hope to reward their ace on Friday night when they play the first of three straight contests with the Oakland Athletics.

Shields, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Dec. 9, has pitched at least eight innings in four of his past six starts, but sits just 2-3 on the campaign with a 2.48 earned run average in eight total outings.

The 31-year-old righty did not get a decision versus the Chicago White Sox on May 6 despite eight scoreless innings of work, then suffered a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday. Shields was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and a pair of walks over another eight innings.

"We haven't given Shields much run support this year, and in a game like that, we've got to give him more," designated hitter Billy Butler said on his club's website.

Shields is 5-3 with a 4.08 ERA lifetime versus the Oakland Athletics.

The Royals were swept in that three-game series by the Yankees, but rebounded to take two of three from the hosting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Kansas City won Wednesday's rubber match 9-5.

Wade Davis, acquired in the same trade that landed the Royals Shields, allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings, but got plenty of offensive support. Lorenzo Cain drove in three runs, Salvador Perez knocked in a pair and Butler finished with two RBI to give him nine total during the series.

"(The Angels) have a good lineup. We wanted to get ahead of hitters and get quick outs. The offense was incredible tonight," said Davis.

Jarrod Dyson added an RBI triple before exiting the game in the eighth inning with a sprained right ankle suffered scaling the fence while trying to take away a home run.

Kansas City scored 22 runs in the series versus the Angels and will try to stay hot against Jarrod Parker, who the A's would love to see get hot as he continues his second season with the club.

Parker has won two of his last three starts after losing his first four decisions to begin the season and is coming off a 4-3 victory in Seattle on Saturday. The right-hander did walk a season-high four and yielded three hits, but kept the damage to three runs over 6 1/3 innings.

"We want to get him on a roll," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Parker. "We'd like to see him get on a roll and certainly with losing a few games in a row, it was a performance we needed out of him."

Parker, 24, is 2-5 with a 6.86 ERA in eight starts this season after going 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA in 29 games as a rookie in 2012. That campaign featured his first and only other career meeting with the Royals, a setback on Aug. 14 in which Parker yielded five runs -- four earned -- over 4 2/3 innings.

Oakland comes into this series having lost eight of its last 10, and was bested 6-2 by Texas on Wednesday. Dan Straily was reached for five runs -- four earned -- and issued four walks over his 4 1/3 innings.

Looking to keep the A's in it, reliever Jesse Chavez instead gave up a three- run homer to Nelson Cruz in the fifth.

"I just needed to come in and keep the team close, and I didn't do my job," Chavez said.

The Athletics also managed just five hits on offense. Coco Crisp, activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, and Derek Norris knocked in the team's only runs.

The Royals won five of nine versus the Athletics last season, but lost two of three in their lone trip to Oakland.