KANSAS CITY -- Before each of Athletics pitcher Gio Gonzalez's starts, he has a quick pep talk with fellow starter Dallas Braden.
As the two spoke before Friday's series opener in Kansas City -- a 5-1 victory over the Royals -- Gonzalez said Braden offered Gonzalez one piece of advice.
"We talked before the game, and [Braden] said, 'Don't worry about the strikeouts, go out there and pound the zone and let your defense do the talking.' What a coincidence -- he called it," Gonzalez said after the game. "Let the defense do the talking."
Gonzalez did just that as he threw seven innings, allowing only one run on seven hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. For his efforts, Gonzalez earned his eighth win of the season and propelled the Athletics to a three-game winning streak.
At no point in Gonzalez's day did his defense do the talking more than in the third inning, when the left-hander had the bases loaded with no outs. Gonzalez sat the next three batters down in order without allowing a single run to cross the plate.
"I was just trying to minimize damage as much as possible," Gonzalez said. "I wanted ground-ball outs. I was fortunate enough to get a shallow popup and a strikeout, and then a big play by [Kevin] Kouzmanoff and [Daric] Barton."
While Gonzalez did what he needed to do on the mound, his offense had his back for the first time in a long time.
In all six of Gonzalez's last starts, his offense has provided just three runs or fewer of support. However, that was not the case in this one as Oakland came out firing from the first inning.
Third baseman Kouzmanoff backed up his starting pitcher when he ripped a two-run single in the third inning that broke up a 1-1 tie, proving to be the difference in the game.
Kouzmanoff also doubled and scored a run in the second inning off Royals starter Zack Greinke, who was handed his ninth loss of the season. The two hits from Kouzmanoff left the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner quite frustrated.
"It was just bad pitching," Greinke said. "I tried to throw high fastballs and the first one was thigh-high and the second one was knee-high. So, I mean, it's just frustrating when you have an idea on how to pitch someone and you don't even come close to executing. And that's what happened."
On top of the A's win, Friday's game featured an overturned call by umpire crew chief Jeff Kellogg, which eventually provided the first run of the game for the A's.
As leadoff man Coco Crisp stepped up to the batters box in the first inning, he ripped what was originally ruled a foul ball down the right-field line. After umpires gathered to review the call, Crisp was awarded a double on the play.
Oakland manager Bob Geren said he knew it was a fair ball all along.
"I could tell by the reaction of the first baseman that it was fair, so I just ran out to see what happened," he said. "You could kind of see the ball mark on the line. [The umpires] did the right thing -- got together and talked about it, and they got the call right."
Geren said he was happy with the win, especially coming off the All-Star break when players tend to be a little rusty after not playing baseball for a few days.
"I think it's important when you get on the road right after three or four days off," Geren said of the win. "We practiced yesterday and guys looked pretty rusty at practice, but we had a nice workout, and today, they looked a lot better than yesterday, that's for sure."
It's a new start for the Athletics as they opened up the second half of the season with a win, and Gonzalez is happy with where things are going.
"It's a good start for Oakland," he said. "It shows that we're coming out swinging and we're flashing our leather a little bit. ... Just all around, it was a great day for the Athletics."
Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.