OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jon Lester won his Oakland debut while pitching into the seventh inning and Jonny Gomes got two hits during an eight-run burst in his return to the Athletics as they beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 Saturday.
Two days after being traded from the sagging World Series champion Boston Red Sox, Lester and Gomes teamed up to boost the club with the best record in baseball.
The 6-foot-4 Lester (11-7) instantly became an imposing presence on the mound in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum. Fans in the crowd of 30,097 cheered the lefty as he went through his warmup routine in left field, then Lester tipped his cap to a roaring ovation when he left after throwing 6 2-3 innings.
Back with the AL West-leading A’s, Gomes delivered in an eight-run fifth inning. He singled and scored off Jason Vargas (8-5), then hit a hit a two-run single off Aaron Crow.
Lester gave up three runs and nine hits, walking one and striking out three.
Pitching on seven days’ rest after being scratched Wednesday ahead of the trade deadline, Lester improved to 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA in 12 career starts against the Royals. He hasn’t lost in nine starts overall since June 7 at Detroit.
The A’s went ahead with their planned promotion, passing out 10,000 Yoenis Cespedes T-shirts reading “La Potencia” – it pays tribute to his power. The two-time Home Run Derby champ was traded to Boston in the big deal.
Vargas came off the disabled list to make his first start since undergoing an appendectomy July 9. After the first 12 A’s batters were retired in order, the next 12 produced eight hits and eight runs.
Oakland lost second baseman Nick Punto when he strained his right hamstring. He rounded third on Jed Lowrie’s RBI single in the fifth, but slid toward the coach’s box and grabbed the back of his leg before hobbling back to the bag.
An inning earlier, the umpires went to replay to determine whether A’s catcher Derek Norris improperly blocked the plate when he tagged a sliding Alex Gordon. The out call was confirmed, with newly acquired center fielder Sam Fuld’s throw resulting in a sensational double play.
Royals: First baseman Eric Hosmer was put on the 15-day disabled with a stress fracture of the third finger on his right hand. He was injured Thursday and is expected to miss 3 to 6 weeks.
Athletics: Center fielder Coco Crisp missed his sixth straight game with a strained neck. Manager Bob Melvin said the A’s aren’t putting him on the DL because Crisp has shown he can make quick progress once back doing baseball activities, which could be Sunday. He’s received pain-relieving injections.
Kansas City right-hander James Shields (9-6, 3.50 ERA) makes his team-leading 24th start in the series finale Sunday. A’s lefty Scott Kazmir (12-3, 2.37) looks to improve to 4-0 in a six-start stretch. He has allowed two or fewer runs in his past five outings.