KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Seth Lugo struck out 10 and earned his American League-leading seventh victory as the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 5-3 Saturday night.

The Royals improved to 28-19, nine games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2015 season, when they went on to win the World Series. Kansas City also claimed its eighth series win of the season, a mark the Royals didn't reach until mid-September in 2023.

“With this pitching staff, we don't need much,” second baseman Michael Massey said. "When a hitter is on a hot streak, at what point is he just good and not on a hot streak? I feel like that's where we're starting to get as a team. It's not really a streak. We're just playing the way we're supposed to play.

“We're just a good team.”

Oakland lost its seventh straight game, the team's longest skid of the season.

Lugo (7-1) allowed two runs on six hits with a walk in 5 2/3 innings. The 34-year-old right-hander had his second straight double-digit strikeout game and became the eighth Royals pitcher to accomplish that feat. James McArthur picked up his 11th save.

But Lugo was not satisfied.

“The starter's job is to pitch deep into the game,” he said. “When (John) Schreiber's having to go multiple innings and three relievers are used, I feel like the standard should be to pitch deeper and to take the load off (the bullpen).”

His manager was much more complimentary.

"You feel really good that he's going to keep you in it” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. ”His stuff looked really good. The home run pitch was just him not getting the ball where he wanted it.

“This was a good test for Lugo. This was the first night when it was really warm and humid, and you could see that they made him work.”

Ross Stripling (1-8) picked up his league-leading eighth loss. The 34-year-old righty allowed four runs on nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts in five-plus innings.

The Athletics had plenty of chances, pounding out 11 hits, but they only pushed across three runs.

“We just didn't get the big hit,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “They were able to capitalize with two outs. But, offensively, there were better signs.”

The Royals got to Stripling for a pair of runs in the first. Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr. opened with singles. After the runners advanced to second and third on a groundout, Salvador Perez drove in both with a single to left field.

“I don't care when we score runs,” Quatraro said, “but it's better to get out to a lead. We knew Stripling was going to be tough.”

The Athletics answered in the second. Zack Gelof legged out a double before Seth Brown hit his fourth homer of the season, a 445-foot shot to center field to tie the score.

The Royals regained the lead in the fifth when Vinnie Pasquantino snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a two-out line drive single that scored Garcia. The Royals added to the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Nelson Velazquez that scored Massey, who led off with a double.

The Athletics closed within a run on an RBI single by Brent Rooker in the seventh. But the Royals got that run back on a leadoff home run by Kyle Isbel, his fourth, in the bottom of the seventh.


The Athletics and Royals will close their three-game series Sunday afternoon. The Athletics will send LHP JP Sears (3-2, 3.96 ERA) to the mound to face RHP Brady Singer (3-2, 2.84 ERA).


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