Oakland A’s loss to Kansas City Royals follows familiar script: A bullpen meltdown

Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals: A's bullpen gives up six-run lead in loss

Oakland A’s loss to Kansas City Royals follows familiar script: A bullpen meltdown

The Oakland A’s aren’t out of postseason contention, but their gradual decline follows a familiar script. Similar to a handful of losses of late, their 10-7 fall to the middling Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium started with a healthy lead and took a turn with the bullpen unable to hold it.

In this case, the A’s took a six-run lead heading into the bottom of the third inning against starter Jackson Kowar. They scored two in the first on Starling Marte’s RBI double and Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. They scored three on back-to-back hits by Elvis Andrus and Josh Harrison after Kowar loaded the bases on three straight walks.

No lead is safe. No matter the opposing team. Frankie Montas entered his start with a 1.30 ERA over his last four starts, but spiraled when he couldn’t find his splitter. He gave up three runs in the third inning, then departed with just one out in the fourth after allowing a run with two runners in scoring position.

Deolis Guerra got Salvador Perez to fly out and struck out Andrew Benintendi to clean the mess — then added another clean inning on. But Yusmeiro Petit, in his MLB-leading 71st appearance, surrendered the lead for good with the help of Perez’s go-ahead three-run home run. The Royals took an 8-7 lead to the seventh inning and added a two-run home run off Sergio Romo as the final dagger.

The A’s pitching staff holds a 6.81 ERA in the month of September, second highest to the Baltimore Orioles’ 6.92. They’ve allowed 20 home runs in 12 September games.

With that, the A’s slip further down a wild card race with five teams unable to take a strong grip on one of the two spots. Four games separate the top team from the last team on the ladder, and each team keeps taking a step back to let the other by in a dizzying shuffle. No clear frontrunner has emerged, but the A’s are running out of steam at a time when they need to pump on the gas.