By JOSE M. ROMERO
(PHOENIX, Ariz., AP) — Yordano Ventura struck out six in 4 1-3 innings and Salvador Perez hit a two-run home run, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
“I like his composure. I like the way that game doesn’t speed up on him for a young player,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of the 22-year-old Ventura. “He always seems to be in control of his emotions on the mound.”
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas continued his torrid spring, going 3 for 3 with a solo homer, double and single to raise his batting average to .500 in 11 games. Moustakas has four home runs and 13 RBIs.
Moustakas got two of his hits with two strikes.
“His whole focus this spring has primarily been with two strikes,” Yost said. “In the cage and the drills that they do, it’s on two-strike approach.”
Ventura allowed a run on two hits, leaving after giving up a single to Oakland’s Derek Norris.
“I felt good. I threw good pitches and I threw a lot of strikes,” Ventura said in Spanish. “I’ve been working hard on when not throwing hard, having control of the ball.”
The Royals scored three runs in the sixth inning off A’s reliever Sean Doolittle. Billy Butler doubled with one out and scored on Perez’s two-out long ball.
Perez is 10 for 21 in spring training and returned after missing most of Monday’s and all of Tuesday’s game with a bruised left palm.
Scott Kazmir silenced the Royals for four innings in his second start of the spring. He has not allowed a run and only three hits over seven innings. He has five strikeouts.
Royals: Ventura, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic who is one of the Royals’ top prospects, has the statistical edge over teammate Danny Duffy so far in spring training. Ventura or Duffy look to be the third man in the regular-season starting rotation between two left-handers, Jason Vargas and Bruce Chen.
Perez said Ventura was working both sides of the plate and had a good changeup, but that he has to talk to him at times to make sure he doesn’t always throw hard.
Athletics: Kazmir said he wasn’t 100 percent, but not in terms of his physical well-being. He meant that he wasn’t totally effective with his pitches in terms of location. Still he was pleased with his results.
“Wasn’t particularly sharp today, but a lot of my pitches got me out of some jams. Secondary pitches. Just one of those where you don’t feel 100 percent but you go out there and make pitches,” Kazmir said. “It’s a good test for me to be able to do that early in spring training.
Royals: Infielder Alcides Escobar remains out with right shoulder soreness. … Perez returned to the lineup for the first time since Monday, when he took a foul tip off his left palm and left the game after two innings.
“I feel good with my hand. It’s a little sore but it feels normal,” Perez said.
Athletics: Norris returned to the lineup after being out since Friday with back tightness. … Daric Barton is still dealing with a hamstring injury but is working out and could return to game action in the coming days. … Outfielder Craig Gentry has not played in a spring training game because of a lower back injury. Pitcher Ryan Cook continues to throw bullpen sessions but is still trying to come back from shoulder tightness.
PLAY OF THE DAY
A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson threw out Perez at first to start the fifth inning when Donaldson ran in to scoop up the deflection of Perez’s line drive off pitcher Fernando Nieve and fired to first base for the out. Nieve remained in the game.
Royals: Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie gets his second spring training start for the Royals Thursday against Cleveland in Goodyear, Ariz.
Athletics: Right-hander A.J. Griffin looks to lower his 9.00 spring ERA when he starts against Colorado in Phoenix on Thursday. It will be Griffin’s third start.