Three Royals homer to take opener vs. Cubs
CHICAGO -- Lorenzo Cain hit a tie-breaking RBI double in the eighth, and Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez each smacked solo homers to power the Royals to a 8-4 victory Friday over the Cubs, who were playing their first Interleague series.
Cain connected off Pedro Strop, driving in Mike Moustakas, who had walked to lead off the eighth. Two more Royals runs scored that inning on an error by center fielder Dexter Fowler, who dropped Omar Infante's fly ball.
"We played well today, and then we broke down at the end," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "They showed why they went to the World Series last year, and we showed why we're not ready yet."
Escobar, Gordon and Perez connected off Chicago starter Jake Arrieta, who had given up three home runs total in his nine previous starts. Wrigley Field must have seemed like a playground-sized park to the Royals, who are ranked 14th in the American League in home runs.
The Cubs had rallied as Jorge Soler belted a two-run homer in the sixth off starter Edinson Volquez, and Addison Russell tied the game at 4 with a solo shot in the seventh off Kelvin Herrera. It was Chicago's fourth loss in the past five games, while Kansas City snapped a four-game losing streak with the win.
"It's big," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We needed to have this one today. We didn't want it to go to five games.
"Hey, it's a good club over there. They've got some nice young talented players."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First-pitch Esky: For the second time this month, Escobar opened the game by drilling the first pitch for a home run. Escobar did so at Detroit on May 9, hitting the first pitch off Anibal Sanchez for a homer. This time, Escobar took Arrieta's first pitch, a fastball, over the left-center-field wall for his second homer of the season.
"Any time they throw me a first-pitch fastball right over the middle," Escobar said, "I'm going to swing. Maybe they start throwing me breaking balls away now, I don't know. But if it's fastball in the middle, I'll go after it."
Added Yost: "It's always good to be leading 1-0 after one pitch."
Start me up: Arrieta only gave up five home runs last season, and had been charged with three this year before the Royals went to work. Escobar (fastball), Gordon (sinker) and Perez (curve) connected in the first, second and fourth innings, respectively, on three different pitches off the right-hander. It's the first time Arrieta has given up three homers in one game since Sept. 13, 2013, when the Pirates connected. Arrieta got the win on that day.
"They came out swinging, and I expected that," Arrieta said. "It's tough when, as an opposing club, you come here, see what the wind is doing [and swing for the fences]. I was in the strike zone early and often, which is a good thing. It hurt in a couple scenarios, but I think, overall, I didn't give them any free passes." More >
Cain breaks out of slump: Cain had just one hit on this trip before getting an infield hit in the first and then coming through with the go-ahead RBI double in the eighth, scoring Moustakas. Cain was hitting just .242 over his last 24 games as his average plummeted to .293. Moustakas made a fantastic read on Cain's liner in the eighth, which went over Fowler's head, and bolted from first. He didn't stop, but did stumble a bit around second. More >
"We have to be more efficient in the latter part of the game. You cannot make the physical or mental mistakes, and you've got to make pitches in order to beat good teams late. You have to have that will to beat them, and you do that by repeating fundamentals and techniques and having good at-bats." -- Maddon More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Friday marked the Royals' first trip to Wrigley Field since July 17, 2001. It had been 13 years, 316 days between games at the ballpark, the longest such span for an opponent in Wrigley Field history. The Royals brought plenty of their fans, who campaigned on social media starting in February, to take over Wrigley Field.
Chants of "Let's go Royals" started as soon as batting practice began.
"We got that a lot of places now," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We got great fans."
Added Gordon: "Give a lot of props to our fans. They do this a lot." More >
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (3-4, 4.64 ERA) takes the hill in a 6:15 p.m. CT start. Ventura has never faced the Cubs, but in his short career he is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in Interleague Play. Ventura is 1-for-4 at the plate -- he had a single in May of 2014 at San Diego.
Cubs: Tsuyoshi Wada will make his third start of the season on Saturday. The lefty is switching spots with Jason Hammel, who the Cubs wanted to give one more day to heal a cracked fingernail. Wada did not get a decision in his last outing against the Nationals when he gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings, striking out six. He's held opponents to a .222 batting average.
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