KANSAS CITY -- For a moment, it looked like Royals catcher Salvador Perez would be the hero, breaking a tie in the eighth inning with a blast that was caught at the 410-foot sign in center field.No matter. Jorge Soler followed moments later with a home run off reliever Yusmeiro
KANSAS CITY -- For a moment, it looked like Royals catcher Salvador Perez would be the hero, breaking a tie in the eighth inning with a blast that was caught at the 410-foot sign in center field.
No matter. Jorge Soler followed moments later with a home run off reliever Yusmeiro Petit, a shot to left-center that gave the Royals a 5-4 lead, an advantage that held in a victory over the A's on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
"For the first time in nine years, when Salvy hit that ball to center, I cussed the ballpark," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I thought that ball was gone. But then Soler made me feel a lot better."
Perez, too, thought he got it all.
"I hit it good enough," Perez said, shaking his head. "It's weird, man. I don't know."
But Soler jumped on an 0-2 curveball from Petit, reached out and drove it an estimated 393 feet, per Statcast™, his ninth homer of the season.
"I came running out of the box because almost every time I make a one-handed swing," Soler said through interpreter Pedro Grifol, "I have this habit of just running hard. I came out running, I stepped on first and lifted my head and saw that everyone in the outfield had stopped. I was like, 'Oh, OK, it's gone.'"
The Royals had taken a 4-3 lead into the eighth. But since ace setup man Brad Keller moved to the rotation earlier this week, Royals manager Ned Yost has been searching for a new bridge to get to closer Kelvin Herrera.
"You are waiting for someone to step up and take it," Yost said. "I'm looking for someone to take the role. I'll gladly give it to you. But you have to take it."
This time it was right-hander Kevin McCarthy who got through a scoreless seventh. But the A's nicked lefty Tim Hill for a run in the eighth on pinch-hitter Chad Pinder's first-pitch RBI single up the middle.
Hill got his first career victory. Herrera closed out the ninth for his 13th save.
Royals right-hander Jason Hammel turned in his third straight solid outing, going six-plus innings while permitting seven hits and three runs. He walked two and struck out three.
In his last three outings, Hammel has gone 18 1/3 innings, giving up three runs while striking out 19. He left after A's catcher Bruce Maxwell, a .154 hitter coming in, hit his first home run of the season on a 3-1 fastball.
The Royals jumped to an early 4-0 lead. Perez hit a two-run double in the first. Alcides Escobar and Jonathan Jay had RBI hits in the second.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Hammel got in trouble in the third inning when Marcus Semien doubled with one out and scored on Jed Lowrie's two-out single to pull the A's within 4-1. Hammel then hit Khris Davis with an 0-2 two-seamer. Hammel then pitched carefully to Matt Olson, who homered twice Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. Finally, on a 3-2 slider, Olson flied out to center field.
The Royals claimed outfielder Rosell Herrera off waivers from the Reds. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals put right-hander Nathan Karns on the 60-day disabled list. Karns continues to battle elbow tightness. Herrera, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, debuted with the Reds this year and played in 11 games. He was hitting .267 with three homers and 11 RBIs at Triple-A Louisville this year as well.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The A's possibly were headed for a big inning in the fourth, trailing 4-1. With a runner on first and one out, Stephen Piscotty drilled a shot into the left-field corner. The runner at first, Dustin Fowler, hesitated around third and then continued toward home. But five-time Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon threw a strike to relay man Escobar, who fired a throw right on time to catcher Perez to nail Fowler. It was Gordon's 85th career assist.
HE SAID IT
"There is no way I would have had the career I had without Bruce Kison as my pitching coach." -- Royals Hall of Fame closer Jeff Montgomery, on the passing of the former Royals pitching coach Saturday
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Royals second baseman Ryan Goins bunted, trying for a hit, with two outs in the second inning. He originally was ruled out but Yost, with the assistance of Royals replay specialist Bill Duplissea challenged, and the call was overturned. The reversal was big because it kept the inning alive and the Royals got two runs.
Duplissea now is 14-of-16 in challenges, tops in the Major Leagues.
Right-hander Jakob Junis (5-4, 3.61 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the series finale against the A's on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium at 1:15 p.m. CT. Junis gave up three runs and six hits while issuing a season-high four walks over six innings Monday against the Twins. Right-hander Daniel Gossett (0-3, 6.05 ERA) will start for the A's.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.