Five-run inning helps Royals edge Blue Jays
TORONTO – A five-run outburst in the third inning was enough for the Kansas City Royals to beat the Blue Jays 7-6 on Sunday to end Toronto’s small two-game win streak.
The Royals had 11 hits before a Rogers Centre crowd 21,727 in the third of a four-game Canada Day weekend series.
Blue Jays designated hitter Justin Smoak belted out two solo homers in the loss to bring his season total to 14.
Toronto (31-53) hasn’t won three in a row since putting together a four-game win streak between April 18 and 21.
Royals reliever Ian Kennedy walked Blue Jays pinch-hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to begin the ninth inning. Catcher Luke Maile successfully bunted Guerrero to second. But Kennedy induced a pop fly to get Toronto third baseman Eric Sogard out and got Smoak to foul pop out to third baseman Hunter Dozier.
The Blue Jays spotted starter Aaron Sanchez a 5-1 lead with a five-run second inning when they sent eight batters to the plate.
Maile chased home two runs on a triple down the right-field line that Royals outfielder Jorge Soler lost in the sun. Maile touched home plate after Eric Sogard’s single to the left field, and he scored on Smoak’s homer to centre field.
Toronto’s four-run lead was short-lived, however. Sanchez surrendered consecutive walks to Royals shortstop Humberto Arteaga and centre-fielder Whit Merrifield.
Kansas City then clubbed out four singles in a row from Nicky Lopez, Alex Gordon, Dozier, and Soler to score five runs and retake the lead.
Sanchez was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning after giving up his fourth walk and seventh hit, a single to Arteaga.
Sanchez (3-11) seemed on his game when he escaped the first inning thanks to a double play and struck out the first two Royals batters to begin the second inning. But a walk to first baseman Cheslor Cuthbert proved costly when he was driven in by a double from Kansas City designated hitter Lucas Duda.
Sanchez, who enjoyed a 15-2 record in 2016, has made 12 starts since his last win on Apr. 27. He threw 73 pitches, 41 strikes, against the Royals.
The Royals increased their lead to 7-5 with Soler’s 22nd homer of the year to right centre field off Sanchez’s replacement, Nick Kingham. But Smoak pushed the Blue Jays to within one with his second homer of the game to lead off the fifth inning.
Both of Smoak’s homers came off Royals starter Brad Keller (4-9), who lasted five innings to get the win in his team-leading 18th start.
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