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Royals can't capitalize on rally in 7th inning

Cain's K on disputed third-strike call is pivotal in frame
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

For a moment, it seemed like a classic Royals late-inning breakout toward victory.

The Royals came into the seventh inning trailing by a run on Saturday against the host Dodgers. Alcides Escobar opened the inning with a sharp single to center against reliever Brandon Morrow. With one out, pinch-hitter Brandon Moss patiently drew a walk.

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For a moment, it seemed like a classic Royals late-inning breakout toward victory.

The Royals came into the seventh inning trailing by a run on Saturday against the host Dodgers. Alcides Escobar opened the inning with a sharp single to center against reliever Brandon Morrow. With one out, pinch-hitter Brandon Moss patiently drew a walk.

View Full Game Coverage

Whit Merrifield followed with a ground-ball single to left and Escobar scored, tying the game at 3.

Then, Jorge Bonifacio roped a single, loading the bases.

A classic Royals late-inning surge, right? Nope. They didn't score again in the inning and eventually lost 5-4 in 10 innings.

"We had opportunities and we just couldn't capitalize on them," manager Ned Yost said.

The Royals' seventh-inning rally was short-circuited by a questionable strike three call on Lorenzo Cain, who later was ejected. Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez got the strike three call.

Cain took a 2-2 pitch that appeared well outside for strike three.

Video: KC@LAD: Baez retires Hosmer, escapes bases-loaded jam

After Eric Hosmer then chopped a 3-2 pitch that appeared inside for an easy groundout, the inning ended.

But Cain, who rarely debates with umpires, was tossed by home-plate umpire Bill Miller between innings as he ran toward center field to take his defensive position.

"I just told him the ball was outside, and he just kind of looked at me, threw his hands up, kind of saying he had it as a strike," Cain said. "I looked at the video, it was clearly a ball. Just kind of threw his hands up and next thing I know, he threw me out. I don't know.

Video: KC@LAD: Cain gets tossed for arguing with umpire

"I had a few words with him, just went up to him and let him know how I felt. I just told him why [can't he] just admit he just missed the call. He just kept saying 'I had it a strike, it was a strike, it was a strike.' I mean, whatever. What can you do about it?"

Added Yost, "It's hard to tell. It was off a couple inches going back and looking at the replay of it, but that's after the fact. You can't tell. [Cain has] got a great eye, he knows, he can tell."

But Cain said that inning likely was the difference in the game.

"It was a huge situation. [Baez] is throwing 97 up there, that battle, having a good at-bat, and to get a call like that is very frustrating," Cain said. "That could have been pretty much the difference between a win and a loss. It was tough. I definitely wanted to get up there and drive some runs in there. To get called strike three on that, it was frustrating and I didn't like it at all."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals