SAN DIEGO -- The Royals spent seven innings inching toward the Padres on Saturday. In the eighth, they broke through emphatically with the franchise's most prolific inning in 11 years, a nine-run frame leading to a 12-6 victory at Petco Park.Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain all went deep
SAN DIEGO -- The Royals spent seven innings inching toward the Padres on Saturday. In the eighth, they broke through emphatically with the franchise's most prolific inning in 11 years, a nine-run frame leading to a 12-6 victory at Petco Park.
Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain all went deep in the Royals' highest-scoring inning since Aug. 23, 2006. After Cain, who also homered in the sixth, led off with an infield single, Hosmer sent a 1-0 fastball from Brad Hand the opposite way for a game-tying, two-run shot.
"That's the benefit of hitting behind LoCain," Hosmer said. "Any time he gets on first, he's a baserunning threat to steal. After I got the first slider, I knew there was a pretty good chance I'm gonna get a fastball. It might be the only one I got, so I just wanted to be on time and make sure I didn't miss it."
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Two pitches later, Perez turned a Hand slider into his 100th career home run, giving the Royals their first lead of the series. Hand came into Saturday's contest having allowed two home runs on the year.
"Those are hard losses," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I think every baseball club endures them at some point in time in the season. We've had our fair share, obviously. … Any time you fight hard to take a lead into the eighth inning, you want to hold on and win that. It's more painful when you lose late in the ballgame."
The Royals were not yet done, as Moustakas doubled off Hand. Green turned to Jose Valdez, who loaded the bases for Cain. He promptly unloaded them, his second homer of the game also serving as his second career grand slam.
"I was just looking for a fastball there," Cain said. "I didn't realize how hard he threw it, 97, but I was just looking for a good pitch to drive. That was the main goal there. It was a two-seamer, so I was able to get my hands inside and get it out. It was huge."
The Padres jumped ahead early behind recently called-up Jose Pirela, who drove in their first three runs before scoring their fourth and fifth. His leadoff home run off former Padre Ian Kennedy was San Diego's fifth of the season, while his two-run double in the fifth gave him his first career three-RBI game. He scored on separate Yangervis Solarte singles in the fifth and seventh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Taking advantage: In the midst of the Royals' eighth-inning home-run derby, a Padres miscue proved costly. With the bases loaded and one out, Whit Merrifield lofted a deep fly ball to center field, but Franchy Cordero appeared to be camped under it. The fly ball bounced off the tip of his glove and deflected onto the outfield grass, allowing two runs to score and setting the stage for Cain's slam two batters later.
"He missed it," Green said. "I wouldn't make more of it than it was. I think he went back there, was where he was supposed to be and just didn't catch it."
Plenty of Stammen-a: Padres right-hander Craig Stammen entered in a dire situation in the third inning, with San Diego clinging to a 1-0 lead after the Royals loaded the bases with no outs against rookie right-hander Miguel Diaz. Stammen struck out Jorge Bonifacio before getting Cain to hit into an inning-ending double play. It was the second time in a week Stammen entered with the bases loaded and no outs and did not allow a run. Stammen allowed Alcides Escobar's tying home run in the fifth, but was otherwise sharp, allowing one run in three innings.
"Craig Stammen did an unbelievable job today," Green said. "Pitching us through the fifth inning, he gave us a chance to win the game."
"I think, more than anything else right there, we hit for a long time in the bottom of the seventh. Brad Hand goes out there, closes out the [top] of the seventh inning, going back out for the eighth. … I don't think he was as sharp as he normally is. For him, he's been outstanding all year. Tons of confidence in him next time he takes the ball." -- Green, on Hand's struggles in the eighth inning
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The Royals' five home runs (two by Cain and one each by Perez, Hosmer and Escobar) were their most since July 23, 2003. More >
DIAZ DOESN'T LAST
Although it became a moot point by the end of the contest, Diaz made his first career start Saturday after pitching exclusively in relief, hurling two-plus innings before exiting with the bases loaded and no outs.
Diaz was sharp across the first two frames, sitting between 95-99 mph with his fastball while not allowing a hit, but he struggled with his command in the third, which he said was the result of him quickening his delivery as he worked longer than he had been used to. Thanks to Stammen, Diaz has a 0.00 ERA as a starter.
"I felt normal, to be honest," Diaz said through a team interpreter. "I was really just focused on getting first-pitch strikes and getting ahead in the count. Had a rough third inning, but other than that, I felt good, felt normal."
Royals:Jake Junis will take the mound for the Royals in the rubber game and make his third career start. Junis was recalled on June 6 from Triple-A Omaha prior to his last start against Houston. The right-hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits. Game time is set for 3:40 p.m. CT.
Padres: Rookie right-hander Dinelson Lamet is seeking a bounceback start after the worst of his three outings. Lamet struck out eight in each of his first two starts, but he struggled last time out against the D-backs, allowing nine runs (seven earned) in three innings. The first pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:40 p.m. PT.
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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.
Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Royals on Saturday.