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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Trevor Cahill’s only issue in his first seven starts with Oakland was that his teammates weren’t scoring runs for him.
Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, the problem was the Royals scoring runs against him. Cahill gave up a season-high four earned runs in the A’s 5-4 loss, and he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning for the first time this year.
“I fell behind a little bit and then even when I was ahead, trying to put guys away, I was throwing noncompetitive pitches out of the zone,” Cahill said. “I wasn’t really setting up for anything off that. A lot of the sinkers were coming back middle instead of staying true to the corners.”
Oakland fought back to tie it in the eighth, but Jorge Soler provided a solo homer off Yusmeiro Petit on an 0-2 curveball in the bottom of the inning for the winning margin.
Entering the day, Cahill had a 2.25 ERA but a 1-2 record because the A’s had scored only 10 runs while he was on the mound his previous six times out. “I wasn’t aiming really at a corner, it was more a lane, inside-outside, up or down,” he said. “I was just trying to put the ball in a general area instead of right at the glove where I feel like I’ve been in the past.”
The Royals, who absorbed a 16-0 drubbing the night before, jumped ahead immediately. Jon Jay led off with a single in the first, Whit Merrifield doubled him to third and Salvador Perez doubled both runners home.
“After yesterday’s pummeling we gave them, I think they were coming out ready to swing the bats hot today,” catcher Bruce Maxwell said.
The next inning, a call reversed on replay hurt Cahill’s cause: With two outs, Ryan Goins initially was called out on a bunt attempt, but he was deemed safe after a challenge. The next batter, Alcides Escobar, tripled to right, and Jay drove Escobar in with a double.
“I kind of thought he was safe,” Cahill said of the reversed call. “I didn’t shut it down mentally for that inning, I was mostly thinking about what I’d throw the next hitter.”
Cahill left with two outs in the fifth after walking a batter and hitting another. Emilio Pagan took over, and after hitting Perez, he struck out Soler.
Shortstop Marcus Semien, back in the lineup and leading off after returning from paternity leave, doubled with one out in the third and scored on Jed Lowrie’s single to right.
The A’s next rally, in the fourth, was partially curtailed by a baserunning miscue. Dustin Fowler, running from first on a double by Stephen Piscotty, saw third-base coach Matt Williams initially waving him around. Just before Fowler reached third, Williams put up the stop sign, but Fowler was not looking his way and rounded the bag, hesitated and had to keep going home. He was out by several feet. Piscotty then scored on a base hit by Maxwell.
Fowler said when he and Williams discussed the play, both of them tried to take the blame, with Williams saying he put up the stop sign too late and Fowler saying he shouldn’t have taken his eyes off the coach.
“I put my head down too soon,” Fowler said. “Once I got right beside him, he told me to stop and at that point, it was too late for me to stop; I thought I had a better shot to go home. I have to keep my head up a little bit longer and keep an eye on him. It’s something to learn from, but it’s unfortunate that play happened and we lost by one. It definitely hurt a little bit.”
Maxwell, who ended an 0-for-16 streak with his RBI single, homered to center to lead off the seventh, cutting the Royals’ lead to one. “That felt great,” Maxwell said. “I hadn’t hit one that hard in a while that wasn’t right at somebody.”
The A’s tied it in the eighth when Matt Olson singled, went to second on a grounder and scored on Chad Pinder’s one-out pinch-hit single. Pinder went to second on a groundout but was left there when pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy lined out to shortstop in a 12-pitch at-bat; Escobar made a tricky catch, falling down, when his vision was screened by Pinder running past.
A’s left fielder Matt Joyce left the game in the bottom of the fifth after flying out in the top of the inning. The team announced that Joyce had back tightness. Manager Bob Melvin said Joyce will be evaluated Sunday, but with a day off Monday and some left-handed starters coming up, he should have an opportunity to rest.
The A’s one nice bit of news Saturday: Closer Blake Treinen was named AL Reliever of the Month after saving all 10 opportunities he had in May.
Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @susanslusser