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Yanks sweep Royals behind power, Pineda

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez belted a go-ahead three-run homer and right-hander Michael Pineda delivered 6 2/3 superb innings as the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Royals with a 4-2 victory on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

The Royals lost their fourth straight, their longest losing streak since late August, and dropped into a tie for first place in the American League Central with surging Minnesota.

"We're a great team," Royals starter Chris Young said. "We'll bounce back. I'm not too worried about it."

Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "It's baseball. You can't stay red hot for 162 games. You cool down. You just wait to get hot again."

Brian McCann homered for the Yankees in the second inning before Rodriguez lined a laser just over the wall in left field in the third.

Pineda gave up six hits and one run while walking one and striking out eight.

"To do that against that team, you have to throw the ball well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Young took the loss for the Royals, going six innings and giving up four runs. He walked two and struck out seven. Young had given up just one earned run total in his previous four starts.

Dellin Betances allowed an unearned run in the eighth, his third of the season. Betances still hasn't allowed an earned run in 26 innings. Kendrys Morales' infield hit broke a string of 30 consecutive at-bats against Betances without a hit.

A-Rod passes Gehrig: Rodriguez's three-run home run gave him 1,995 career RBIs, passing Lou Gehrig and moving him to within one of Barry Bonds, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of Major League Baseball. More >

"After sitting out a year he's come back and been very productive," Yost said.

Video: KC@NYY: A-Rod passes Gehrig on RBI list

Pineda slides back to success: In two starts since his 16-strikeout game on May 10 against the Orioles, Pineda had allowed 12 runs (nine earned) in 11 1/3 innings, with Girardi blaming a slider that wasn't as sharp as it had been earlier. On Wednesday, Mike Moustakas hit Pineda's second slider of the afternoon for a first-inning home run, but Pineda righted himself and didn't allow another run. He finished the final three of his eight strikeouts with sliders. More >

"You could see the difference from the last two," McCann said. "Today was as good as it gets."

Video: KC@NYY: Girardi talks about Pineda's start in win

Second time is the charm: In his first at-bat, Moustakas clobbered a fastball inside into the second deck but foul. Later in the at-bat, Moustakas drilled a slider from Pineda deep into the right-field seats. It was Moustakas' fifth homer of the season and it gave the Royals a 1-0 lead, their first lead since Saturday.

On the Royals' recent slide, Moustakas said, "We got an off-day tomorrow to collect our thoughts and then we go try to win the next series. We'll be fine."

Missed chance: The Royals had a chance to creep back in it in the fifth. With one out, Paulo Orlando slashed a double to right. Alcides Escobar lined a single to right and moved to second on a wild pitch. But with the infield back, Moustakas struck out on a pitch out of the zone. Lorenzo Cain then also struck out on a slider out of the zone.

"A lot of it was Pineda, but some of it was us," Yost said. "We're not swinging the bats, and we're cooling off a bit. We had opportunities to get back in the game and couldn't take advantage of it. ... We were on a really long hot streak and we just cooled down. Offenses fluctuate like that. Get hot and cool down."

"I feel like I'm in a good place. I'm happy, having fun." -- Rodriguez

Royals: After an off-day Thursday, right-hander Edinson Volquez (4-3, 2.77 ERA) will take the hill as the Royals open a three-game series on Friday at Wrigley Field against the Cubs at 3:05 p.m. CT. Volquez has owned the Cubs in the past, going 7-0 with a 2.90 ERA.

Yankees: The Yanks head to the West Coast for the first time this season, opening a seven-game trip with the series opener against the A's on Thursday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Northern California native CC Sabathia (2-6, 5.47 ERA) gets the start for the Yanks.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. Danny Knobler is a contributor to
Read More: Mike Moustakas, Michael Pineda, Brian McCann, Chris Young