Crow, Soria put up zeros in Royals' tie
A's denied walk-off victory with two outs in ninth inning
PHOENIX -- The A's moved the winning run to third base with two outs in the ninth inning of their Cactus League exhibition against a Royals split squad on Thursday, but a Grant Green groundout wrapped up the game with a 4-4 final score.
Royals left-hander Will Smith struggled in the opening frame, walking Coco Crisp before serving up a two-run homer to Kurt Suzuki, the catcher's first long ball this spring. Matt Carson also added a two-run double following a walk by Kevin Kouzmanoff and a double from Andy LaRoche.
Right-hander Aaron Crow, one of the Royals' many highly regarded prospects, pitched the third and fourth innings without allowing a hit, although he did issue one walk.
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Meanwhile, for the first three innings, A's starter Brett Anderson looked like the dominant pitcher who posted a 2.80 ERA last season. Anderson hit trouble in the fourth, though, allowing a ground-rule double to Mitch Maier after Wilson Betemit singled, then letting a run score on a wild pitch. Another run came across on a fielding error by Kouzmanoff at third base. In all, Anderson struck out four and walked two across 3 2/3 innings.
"This outing statistically wasn't as good as my last outing, but I pitched more like it was the regular season," Anderson said. "I threw a couple breaking balls and just wanted to make sure I could get people out. I went back to work on some stuff and worked on stuff I usually don't throw."
The Royals scored another run in the fifth inning against reliever Grant Balfour when Chris Getz tripled and scored on a groundout by Billy Butler. Kansas City tied it up in the seventh when a sacrifice fly by Kurt Mertins scored Lucas May.
Royals right-hander Louis Coleman, who pitched two perfect innings and struck out the side in the fifth, used a slider to great effect.
"It wasn't the case in the 'pen going into the game, but when we got out there, I threw one in warmups that I got on top of and it felt good," Coleman said. "So I thought I was going to be able to use it as another pitch today, and it helped me get through that [fourth] inning, because I got behind the first two batters. If I didn't have it, it could've turned out a lot different."
In the fifth, Coleman struck out Suzuki, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui. A bullpen candidate, Coleman has given up just one run in six Cactus League innings so far, recording eight strikeouts.
A's closer Andrew Bailey, coming off minor right elbow surgery, also made his spring debut and tossed a scoreless sixth inning, striking out two of three batters he faced. Royals closer Joakim Soria also pitched a scoreless sixth inning but allowed two singles before inducing a double play and a groundout to end the inning.
Up next for Royals: Kansas City will get its first look at the much-acclaimed Salt River Field at Talking Stick when meeting the Rockies on Friday at 2:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Luke Hochevar, the leading candidate to be the Royals' Opening Day starter, will start. He'll probably bat for the Royals as well because, for the first time all spring, their pitchers will be in the lineup as hitters against the National League club. In previous visits to NL teams, that rule was either waived or the NL club agreed to use the designated hitter. The Rockies, though, wanted to play the game strictly under NL rules. Other possible batters among pitchers are Mike Montgomery and Tim Collins.
Up next for the A's: The A's have split-squad action on Friday, with left-hander Gio Gonzalez getting the start against the Dodgers in Phoenix at 12:05 p.m. PT and right-hander Tyson Ross taking the hill against the Brewers in Maryvale, also at 12:05 p.m. First baseman Daric Barton, who has been battling a left calf contusion, could make his return on Thursday.