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With Cespedes gone, Athletics’ attack fizzles one more time

  • Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar, right, advances to third base past the tag of Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson in the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND — Bob Melvin knew Oakland’s offense might struggle after trading away cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes. The manager just didn’t think it would be this bad.

Two days after being shut out in the series opener against Kansas City, the Athletics managed just four hits in a 4-2 loss to James Shields and the Royals on Sunday.

Josh Reddick hit a leadoff drive in the sixth for Oakland’s first baserunner. He also homered in the eighth against Shields, but that was it for the A’s offense.

“We just haven’t been our best offensively here and now we come up against some good starting pitching,” Melvin said. “Shields was certainly on his game early today. He threw really well today.”

Oakland was held to five hits in Friday’s 1-0 loss. On Saturday, Jason Vargas retired the first 12 batters before the A’s put together an eight-run fifth.

Oakland manages just four hits as Kansas City wins first series after blockbuster trade

The A’s have the best record in baseball at 67-43, but have sputtered offensively since shipping Cespedes to Boston on Thursday in a deal for ace Jon Lester. They lead the stacked AL West by one game over the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Tampa Bay 7-5 on Sunday.

“Our bats aren’t really where we want them right now,” Reddick said. “The last week or so even coming back from Texas and Houston, we aren’t swing the bats as well as we can.”

The 32-year-old Shields (10-6) allowed four hits. He walked none for the fifth time this season.

“I was really aggressive today,” Shields said. “When I get aggressive, I get those guys in swing mode. When I’m wild it’s not going to be as effective.”

Oakland was without injured leadoff hitter Coco Crisp, though it hardly mattered the way Shields was pitching.

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