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CIN@OAK: Griffin hurls first complete-game shutout

Through the first two games of their series at Kauffman Stadium this weekend, the A's and Royals have put on a show of starting pitching across the board, each of the starters going deep into games.

When they face off Sunday in the finale not only of their series but the final game of the season between two young teams to watch in the American League this summer, it will be A's right-hander A.J. Griffin and Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza hoping to continue that trend of starters going deep.

The Royals claimed their first victory over the A's this season Saturday thanks in part to Ervin Santana marking the 31st time Royals starters have pitched at least seven innings this year. The team didn't reach that figure until September last year, when the Royals finished with 37.

The A's, meanwhile, have been one of the best starting outfits in the game after a rough beginning to 2013, going 23-7 with a 3.02 ERA since May 17.

As he tries to pitch the Royals to a series victory, Mendoza is looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the Indians on Tuesday, when he allowed two runs in the first inning on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. The Indians scored two more in the fourth inning prompting Mendoza's early exit.

"I'm going to try to come back stronger than my last start and try to leave that start behind me and finish strong the first half," Mendoza said.

Winless at home in seven starts this season, Mendoza is 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA and 0-2 with a 3.31 ERA in six games (three starts) against Oakland, including his Major League debut in 2007 while with Texas. He pitched against the A's on May 19 in Oakland and allowed three runs over six innings.

Griffin, too, is coming off a rough one, having tied a career-high by allowing seven earned runs as well as a career-high 10 hits against the Cubs his last time out. He had a two-hit shutout the start before against the powerful Reds, and he didn't get tagged for the loss against the Cubs after the A's rallied late.

"I felt fine out there," Griffin said. "They just got the big hit when they needed it. I felt like I was making good pitches, and they really didn't make hard contact that much. I'm just fortunate enough to be on a team that scores a ton of runs."

A's: Donaldson just keeps doing it
After whacking his 15th homer of the season Saturday, A's third baseman Josh Donaldson is now batting .365 (23-for-63) with six homers and 15 RBIs over his last 17 games.

With a bloop single in the third inning Saturday, Donaldson registered his 100th hit of the season, becoming only the 14th player in Oakland A's history to reach that mark before the All-Star break. The last was Miguel Tejada -- now with the Royals.

• After their 4-3 loss Saturday, the A's are now 16-11 in one-run games.

Royals: Gordon returns to action
After missing two games following a collision with the outfield fence, Alex Gordon was back in the lineup Saturday, going 0-for-2 but drawing three walks back at the top of the order.

Gordon was injured Wednesday chasing a fly ball off the bat of the Indians' Jason Kipnis. Originally diagnosed with a mild concussion and hip contusion, he passed all his tests and became eligible to play Saturday.

• Billy Butler did not reach base Saturday, stopping his streak at 32 games in which he reached base safely, dating back to May 31. He was one shy of Mike Sweeney's 33 in 2003 for the fourth longest in franchise history.

Also, Eric Hosmer saw his hitting streak end at seven games.

Worth noting
• Entering Sunday's 2013 finale between the two teams, the A's already have the season series clinched for the fourth time in five years.

• Following Sunday's finale, the A's will continue their road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh for three Interleague games with the team holding the National League's best record, starting Monday.

• The Royals will head to the Bronx for a big four-game set against the Yankees, followed by a visit to Cleveland to wrap up the first half.

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