Johnson homers, scores four runs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics have two Rookie of
the Year candidates. Ken Macha thinks another one of his players
should be in line for an award.

Dan Johnson homered for the fourth consecutive game, Mark Ellis
had three hits and drove in four runs, and the Athletics beat the
Kansas City Royals 16-1 on Saturday night.

Ellis missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

"I don't know how you get Comeback Player of the Year, but Mark
didn't play at all last year and now he's hitting .300," A's
manager Ken Macha said.

Ellis was hitting .258 in his first 28 games, but is batting
.325 since May 18 to hike his average to .300. Since the All-Star
break, he has 15 RBI and scored 16 runs, while hitting safely in
15 of 17 games.

"Last year at this time, I don't think I was playing catch
yet," Ellis said. "I couldn't basically lift my right arm," he
said. "I did miss a whole year, so maybe now I'm just regaining my

Johnson, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10
games, went 2-for-3 with three walks and is hitting .392 since the
All-Star break, the second-highest average in the American League
in that span. Overall, he is hitting .330 with a .414 on-base

"My timing is down," Johnson said of his home run streak.
"That's what it is. My hands are working with my legs right now
and I'm hitting some balls hard."

Macha praised Johnson's plate discipline.

"It was impressive that he was getting all those walks, being
patient enough to take those pitches," Macha said.

Johnson and teammate Nick Swisher are candidates for AL Rookie
of the Year. Swisher hit a three-run homer in an eight-run seventh,
when the A's sent 12 men to the plate. Swisher leads American
League rookies with 16 home runs and 57 RBI.

Johnson scored four runs for Oakland, which had 18 hits and
matched its highest-scoring game of the season.

Joe Blanton (7-9) held the Royals to three hits in six shutout
innings to pick up his second straight road victory. He was 0-6 on
the road before winning twice on this trip.

"I'll take as many runs as I can get," Blanton said. "You can
never get enough runs. That's definitely the most runs I've had
this year."

The A's have won nine of 10 and 16 of 18. The Royals have lost
nine straight, matching their longest losing streak of the season.

"Losing is never easy," Royals catcher John Buck said. "It
ruins your day."

The Royals (38-72) own the worst record in the majors and made
eight roster moves before the game, but played one of their worst
games of the season.

"In the nine games, we're doing everything wrong that we were
doing right when we were winning," Royals manager Buddy Bell said.

Four Royals pitchers combined to walk 10 batters.

"I've got to come in throw strikes and stay ahead of hitters,"
said Jimmy Gobble, the second Kansas City pitcher. "I didn't do
that. It is totally my fault."

Blanton was in trouble only in the second inning, after Matt
Stairs and Emil Brown led off with singles. Blanton got Mark Teahen
to roll into a double play and didn't allow another runner to get
past first base.

Ellis, dealt by the Royals to Oakland in a 2001 three-team
seven-player trade that also included Johnny Damon and Angel
Berroa, singled home Jay Payton in a three-run third. His double in
a four-run fifth scored Swisher and Bobby Kielty, and knocked out
Jose Lima (4-10).

Ellis added a run-scoring double in the seventh.

Kielty and Payton each had three hits. Eric Chavez had three
hits, two RBI and scored two runs.

Lima gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 2-3
innings. He is 0-4 lifetime against the A's with a 12.32 ERA, his
highest against any team. Lima, who gave up the home run to Johnson
in the fourth, has allowed 24 homers, tied for the American League

David DeJesus snapped an 0-for-22 slump with an RBI single off
Keiichi Yabu in the eighth as the Royals avoided a shutout.

Game notes
Mike Sweeney played first base for the Royals for the first
time since June 15, when he injured his left wrist. He had been
restricted to DH duties for the previous 29 games since coming off
the disabled list on July 1. ... The A's are 90-30 in August since
2001. They are 5-1 this August and have won 20 or more games in
August in the previous four seasons. ... Oakland also scored 16
runs against San Francisco on June 26. ... The Royals had a 21-gun
salute before the game to honor Timothy Bell, the nephew of manager
Buddy Bell. Timothy Bell, who was in the United States Marines, was
killed Wednesday in Iraq.