KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)Salvador Perez’s walk-off single capped Kansas City’s four-run rally as the Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 Tuesday night.
The Royals scored six runs off the Reds’ bullpen in the final two innings and Perez got his third game-ending hit this season.
”There are not a lot of people in their major league career that get an opportunity to celebrate a walk-off,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Perez’s heroics. ”You can attribute it to as much luck as you want to. I’m not buying it. There are just special people in that situation, and Salvy is one of them.”
Trailing 6-3 to start the ninth, the Royals got the tying run on second with no outs without the benefit of a hit. Ryan O’Hearn walked and Hunter Dozier was hit by a pitch. Michael A. Taylor then rolled a ground ball through the legs of Eugenio Suarez at third, scoring O’Hearn.
With one out, Nicky Lopez flared a ball into short left field, scoring both runners to tie it 6-6. He went to second on the throw, then advanced to third on an error on left fielder Aristides Aquino. Whit Merrifield walked and Andrew Benintendi struck out, bringing Perez to the plate.
”I kind of changed my sights a little bit,” Lopez said. ”I kind of got a little pull-happy (earlier in the game). I tried to see something a little deeper. I got jammed pretty good, but I was able to get it to the left side.”
Richard Lovelady (2-0) picked up the win. Heath Hembree (2-4) took the loss.
”They’ve been so good,” Reds manager David Bell said of his bullpen. ”With a five-run lead, the way they’ve been pitching, you expect them to get it done. If a couple of plays go a different way it could be a different outcome.”
Kyle Farmer and Tyler Stephenson each had three hits for the Reds. Farmer’s three hits included a double and a two-run home run.
Luis Castillo, whose record stood a 2-9 on June 10, turned in his fifth straight quality start, but to no avail. He allowed one run and three hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.
The Reds started the game with the first two runners reaching base but couldn’t score because of an inning-ending double-play grounder by Joey Votto. Bubic wasn’t as fortunate in the third, allowing his first run on an opposite-field double by Jonathan India. Stephenson reached with a single, and both runners scored on a two-out triple that just eluded Benintendi in left.
Farmer’s seventh home run of the season gave the Reds a 5-0 lead in the fourth. Farmer hit a curve ball 407 feet into the seats in left center, scoring Tyler Naquin.
Taylor homered leading off the bottom of the fifth for the Royals.
”It’s not the first one,” Matheny said of the late comeback. ”To see it come when we haven’t been playing our best baseball and to still have that hunger and belief, if they don’t have that belief, it doesn’t happen. There are a lot of teams with a lot of wins that don’t necessarily do what we just did.”
The Reds got that run back in the seventh on a broken-bat single by Suarez, scoring Nick Castellanos.
Benintendi hit a two-run home run off Cionel Perez in the eighth to bring the Royals to 6-3.
Reds 3B Mike Moustakas returned from a rehab start at Triple-A Louisville after experiencing soreness in his right foot. He last played on May 18 before going on the 10-day Injured List with a right heel contusion.
The Reds will look to RHP Sonny Gray (1-4, 3.27 ERA) to claim the three-game series. Gray will make his 200th start of his major league career. In his first start after coming off the 10-day Injured List with a right groin strain, Gray allowed one run and five hits in five innings against the Cubs.
Royals RHP Brady Singer (3-6, 4.74 ERA) will make his first career start against Cincinnati. He lasted just three innings because of a high pitch count. He gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
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