OAKLAND -- The irrepressible Adam Rosales still wore a big grin in the A's clubhouse Friday night, well after his eighth-inning home run off Royals right-hander James Shields -- and customary home-run sprint around the bases -- lifted Oakland to a 2-1 win.
The last time Rosales thought he had a home run, umpires in Cleveland ruled after video review the ball had not cleared the wall. Major League Baseball later acknowledged that was an "improper call." That was last Wednesday, and Rosales said he hadn't stopped hearing about it since.
"Every ball field I went too, they're all saying, 'Oh, it was a homer.' Or talk to family and friends, they're like, 'Oh it was a homer.' So now they'll be talking about something else. They'll be talking about a real homer."
This one was the difference in a legitimate pitcher's duel between Shields and A's right-hander Jarrod Parker, who had his best start of the season, allowing the one run in seven innings, but left the mound in the seventh trailing in a 1-0 game. Josh Donaldson got him off the hook for what would have been a hard-luck loss with a solo homer off Shields in the bottom of the seventh, and Rosales hammered a 1-1 cutter to left field to break the tie an inning later.
Shields had allowed four singles over the first six innings. He finished eight, struck out nine and had his own string of hard luck continue in May -- in three starts, he's allowed four earned runs in 24 innings and is 0-2.
"The only two balls I saw that looked like they were in the middle of the plate (from Shields) were the one to Donaldson and the one to Rosie," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Both put good swings on them."
Aside from the home runs, the A's had one runner in scoring position the entire night -- in the second inning, when Donaldson led off with a single and moved to second when Derek Norris drew a walk. Daric Barton grounded into a fielder's choice that left A's on first and third with two outs for Rosales, who grounded into a fielder's choice himself.
"I think it was the same pitch, actually," Rosales said. "I missed the first one. So it was good to come back and get that pitch again."
* Parker wouldn't quite acknowledge that this was the start he's been looking for during his rocky start, but it was a flashback to his 2012 form. It was his first start this season in which Parker went at least seven innings and allowed no more than one earned run. Last year as a rookie, he did it eight times.
"It just seemed like there was a calm to him today," Melvin said. "It looked like he was more confident. Right away in the game he was throwing strikes, had a good slider with the changeup and fastball today.
"We've seen him pitch that type of game quite a few times. Hopefully that's kind of a springboard for him to get rolling because it seemed like everything was in sync for him."
Parker, who entered with a 6.86 ERA, said the difference Friday began with his fastball command. Parker pitches off the fastball and said he had good feel of his two-seamer and was able to move the pitch effectively to both sides of the plate.
"For me everything kind of goes off of that," he said. "Just attack and be in the zone and be out of the zone when I want to. I think that was big for me today."
Even the lone run Parker allowed came on a ball that was not well-hit -- David Lough's two-out flare into shallow center in the third, which scored Salvador Perez from second.
Donaldson made an interesting comparison afterward, saying Parker is "a similar version to the guy (the Royals) threw tonight," Shields.
"They both have pretty good changeups, pretty good fastballs," Donaldson said. "For him to go out there and keep us in the game for that long, it was nice to get the win."
* Parker's outing and Donaldson's homer in the seventh allowed Melvin to manage the late innings in a comfortable way. Sean Doolittle got up immediately to warm up for the eighth after the A's tied it. Rosales' home run made it a save situation in the ninth for Grant Balfour -- just his seventh of the season. The A's came into the game with six saves, tied for the second-fewest in baseball.
"That's what we're used to around here," Donaldson said. "We're used to guys going out there on the mound and keeping us in games long enough for the offense to get rolling."
Doolittle gave up a one-out single to Lough but ended the inning with a double play. He hasn't allowed a run in his last nine outings, a span of 8 1/3 innings, and is unscored upon in 17 of 19 appearances this year overall. Melvin said it seems like it's "tough to even get a good swing off him" right now, and Doolittle said he's taking a lot of confidence with him to the mound.
"I think for a slot man, closer, somebody in the late innings, you have to have that streak in you," he said. "You've got confidence, but you've got to have an edge where you're a little bit invincible, and if you execute your pitches, the odds are so far in your favor that nobody's going to be able to put some hits together and get to you."
* Donaldson had two more hits Friday night, making him 11-for-23 on his current six-game hitting streak. He is hitting .384 with four homers and 18 RBIs over his last 24 games and is developing a reputation as one of the team's best hitters in the clutch.
Melvin said that started toward the end of last year, when Donaldson, who had struggled at the plate earlier in the season and weathered several demotions to Triple-A, "ended up getting some of the biggest hits of the year down the stretch.
"The more big hits and opportunities he gets, the more confidence he has," Melvin said. "But I think last year went a long way to giving him the confidence this year."
Donaldson said he was sitting fastball in a 3-1 count against Shields and got one over the middle. His .323 average ranks fourth among American League third baseman, and his 26 RBIs are tied for fifth.
* Lough, who also made a nice defensive play for the Royals in the fourth throwing out Brandon Moss at second base on a potential double, was just recalled from Triple-A on Friday after the Royals put outfielder Jarrod Dyson on the DL with an ankle sprain. It's the first time the Royals have used the DL during the season -- something the A's must look upon with envy.
The A's have used the DL nine times already -- nearly halfway to last year's total of 21 -- and just learned they'll be without opening day starter Brett Anderson for the near future due to a stress fracture in his right foot. Even with Anderson's contributions this season, the rotation began Friday with a 14-21 record (tied for the most losses in the A.L.) and a 5.09 ERA.
A turnaround from Parker would help, though the right-hander said knowing the A's will be pushing forth without Anderson doesn't put added pressure on the remaining rotation members.
"It's something we went through last year and it's not going to be the last time we go through it as a group in our careers," Parker said. "It's obviously a big blow for us, but we just have to do our thing and keep pitching and stay within ourselves."
* The A's do hope to get outfielder Chris Young back from the DL tomorrow. That's a 6:05 p.m. start with Tommy Milone (3-5, 3.71) opposing Ervin Santana (3-2, 2.79).
One current trend I wouldn't mind seeing continue -- Friday's two-hour, 35-minute game was the sixth of the A's last 10 games to come in under 2:45. That's for an A's team that is averaging 3:12. Your move, Tommy.
-- Matt Kawahara