ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays finally nailed down their elusive four-game sweep with a 4-3 walk-off win over the Royals on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
Kansas City first baseman Ryan O'Hearn's ninth-inning throwing error allowed the winning run to score as Tampa Bay secured its first four-game series sweep since Sept. 20-23, 2013, against the Orioles.
Jake Bauers drew a walk to start the ninth and C.J. Cron followed with a single to right to put runners at the corners with none out. With one out, Royals reliever Brian Flynn intentionally walked Willy Adames to bring Kevin Kiermaier to the plate.
• Gomez strikes a pose after tumbling catch
Kiermaier grounded to first and O'Hearn fielded the ball, but his throw home was low and catcher Salvador Perez could not scoop the ball out of the dirt as Bauers slid in safely to give the Rays their fifth consecutive win.
"Obviously, K.K. hit it on the ground," Bauers said. "My only job was to get home and slide. All I saw was the throw bounce. Once I popped up, I saw [the ball] on the ground."
Bauers was at the tail end of his first professional season when the Rays last completed a four-game sweep. When asked about the significance, the rookie first baseman expressed the winning attitude prevailing on the club these days.
"I think every single one of those games we were out on the field expecting to win," Bauers said. "You know you're in a good place as a team when that's the general consensus in the dugout. Hey, we just have to do what we gotta do to win this game because, you know, I don't want to say supposed to, but we know we can and we know we should."
The Rays also swept the seven-game season series against the Royals. Kiermaier called it "a great four-game sweep against those guys."
"We're just trying to keep winning," Kiermaier said. "We're having a lot of fun right now. So we're just going to try and keep it going. We know we have the Red Sox coming back into town [over the weekend]. We'll have our work cut out for us. But we're ready to play whoever, whenever."
Lucas Duda's RBI single in the first opened the scoring. The Rays answered with two in the third on Joey Wendle's sacrifice fly and Adames' RBI single.
Kansas City tagged Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow with two more runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead. Cron drove home the tying run in the seventh when he grounded into a forceout.
Mallex Smith has recorded multiple hits in four consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career and the longest by a Rays hitter since Cron did it in four straight games on May 9-12. Smith, who also has multiple hits in seven of his last eight games, is hitting .385 in 16 games (all starts) since moving to the leadoff spot on Aug. 5.
HE SAID IT
"I feel like I can build off this one and we got the win. So that's all that matters." -- Glasnow on his start
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Kiermaier grounded to second with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield fired to shortstop Alcides Escobar, whose throw to first did not beat Kiermaier. The Royals challenged, contending that Adames had slid outside of his lane while trying to break up the double play. After a review, the call was overturned to complete the double play and erasing what would have been the go-ahead run from scoring.
"They got the play right," Cash said. "That's not Willy's fault, that's my fault."
Cash went on to explain that the rule has changed, and it's his responsibility to make sure all of his players understand the rule.
Rays right-hander Diego Castillo will start the opener of a three-game series against the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday at Tropicana Field. His last five appearances (one start) and seven of his last eight appearances (one start) have been scoreless. Righty Hector Velazquez will start for Boston.