KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals won their eighth straight game and took over the AL Central lead Monday night when Yordano Ventura outdueled Sonny Gray during a 3-2 win over Athletics.
The victory and the Tigers' loss in Pittsburgh gave Kansas City a division lead at the latest point in a season since 2003.
Alcides Escobar drove in a run in the second inning before delivering a two-out single off Gray in the seventh, putting the Royals in front and sending the crowd to its feet.
Kelvin Herrera took over for Ventura and pitched spotless seventh inning, and former Ray Wade Davis breezed through the eighth. Greg Holland worked the ninth, though it didn't come without a little drama.
Josh Donaldson led off the ninth with a single, the first hit by the Athletics since the second inning, and Brandon Moss drew a walk. But after a brief conference on the mound, Holland got Derek Norris to bounce into a double play and former Ray Stephen Vogt to fly out to end it.
It gave the Royals, eight games out of first place on July 21, their 16th win in 19 games.
Kansas City put pressure on from the start, when Jarrod Dyson and Omar Infante opened the game with singles. Gray might have escaped the jam if rightfielder Josh Reddick hadn't flubbed a routine throw to the infield after Infante's hit. It allowed Dyson to reach third easily, and he scored on Salvador Perez's double-play grounder.
Escobar made it 2-0 in the second with a two-out single.