OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's had lost seven of their first eight home games and four straight at the Coliseum before sending ace Sonny Gray to the mound Saturday to face the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
Gray gave up a run in the first inning, but right fielder Josh Reddick hit a three-run blast in the bottom of the inning and the A's battled their way to a 5-3 victory.
"You never want to say this early in the season anything is a must-win, but it was a big win for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We needed to get it to get some confidence back here."
Gray (2-1) allowed two runs -- only one of them earned -- and seven hits in six gritty innings. He struck out six, walked one and threw a season-high 114 pitches, beating the Royals for the first time in his career after going 0-2 in his first three starts.
Gray had 100 pitches through five innings, but Melvin sent him back out for the sixth.
"I was glad that they gave me the opportunity to go back out there for the sixth," Gray said. "When you play these guys, you're going to be in for a fight. That's what it was today.
"They put together good at-bat after good at-bat after good at-bat. I was just glad we could must enough runs. Reddick's homer was huge."
Reddick gave the A's a 3-1 lead in the first inning with his third home run of the season.
Billy Burns led off with a single, Marcus Semien walked and Reddick lined right-hander Chris Young's 0-1 pitch into the right field seats. Young threw an 86 mph fastball down the middle of the plate and Reddick jumped on it.
"He started out throwing me a little slider/cutter, so I was expecting something off-speed," Reddick said. "I just wasn't trying to do too much. Just trying to get a least one run in. I haven't hit a lot with guys on base lately, so I tried to take advantage of that opportunity and fortunately it stayed fair."
Young said Reddick made him pay for a mistake.
"I pulled it a little bit," Young said. "It didn't stay true. I was trying to throw it away. Pulled it more middle and he put a great swing on it. He's a good hitter."
Young (0-3) lasted only four innings in his third start and remained winless. He gave up four runs and eight hits, struck out two, walked two and left after throwing 89 pitches. in his previous start, Young six runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss to Houston.
"He fought his command the first two innings then kind of got on track," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Young. "The thing you look for is just keep us in the game, and he did that. He's not at his best right now, but he's getting really, really close. It's all just a big 6-10 guy getting your mechanics in sync."
The Royals had won four straight games this season, five straight at the Coliseum and eight of nine overall against the A's before falling Saturday.
"Any time you beat the World Series champs, you're going to (hold) your head high and walk out of here with a smile," Reddick said.
Stephen Vogt made it 5-2 with a leadoff homer in the seventh off right-hander Dillon Gee. The home run was Vogt's second overall and second in two games.
A's right-hander John Axford pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, left-hander Sean Doolittle retired the only batter he faced and Ryan Madson gave up an unearned run in the ninth against his former team but got his third save of the season.
Vogt, first baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Josh Phegley each had two of the A's 10 hits.
Right fielder Raymond Fuentes had three hits and drove in a run for Kansas City. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar had two hits and scored a run.
NOTES: A's INF Eric Sogard said he expects to undergo left knee surgery that will sideline him for six to eight weeks. He is on the disabled list for a strained neck but re-aggravated his knee during a rehab assignment. "I'm going to have to get a bone spur removed out of my tendon," Sogard said. Sogard said he will also have "loose bodies" removed and his patella "shaved down" a bit. He said he has been dealing with knee soreness for "a few years." A's manager Bob Melvin said Sogard will get a second opinion before undergoing surgery. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas returned to the lineup after getting a day off Friday to rest his sore right hamstring. ... A's RHP Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder surgery) will throw a bullpen session Sunday, and if all goes well, he will go on a rehab assignment with a minor-league club, Melvin said. ... Royals DH Kendrys Morales, who had 106 RBIs last season, became the 13th Cuban-born player with 500 career RBIs in the major leagues on Friday night.