Royals Stumble in 8th Inning, Fall to Tigers
DETROIT (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals probably should be riding a three-game winning streak into Thursday's series finale against Detroit. Instead, thanks to two blown eighth-inning leads, Kansas City needs a victory just to split the four-game set with the first-place Tigers.
"We just need to find a way to close out these games," said rookie third baseman Mike Moustakas, who went 1 for 4 in Kansas City's 5-4 loss on Wednesday.
This time, Kansas City led 4-2 going into the eighth, but Blake Wood (5-2) couldn't get the clean inning the Royals needed to hand things over to closer Joakim Soria. Austin Jackson sparked the winning rally with a leadoff triple for his fourth hit of the game. Ramon Santiago followed with a sacrifice fly.
With one out and Delmon Young on first, Victor Martinez hit a tying double into left-center. Alex Gordon made a diving attempt on the ball but couldn't haul it in.
"Alex made the dive, and I couldn't tell if he got it or not until I saw Melky (Cabrera) running after the ball," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He covered a lot of ground to even get close to that."
Alex Avila was intentionally walked before Wilson Betemit hit a liner into the right-field corner to drive in pinch-runner Brennan Boesch. Jeff Francoeur cut down Avila at the plate to end the inning.
"It was a combination of bad pitches by me and good swings by them," Wood said. "I threw Wilson a slider down and in, and he just dropped the bat head on it."
The Tigers acquired the journeyman Betemit from the Royals on July 20.
"I know Blake throws hard, so I was looking for something I could hit," Betemit said. "He threw me a slider, and I put a great swing on it."
The Royals put two runners on in the ninth, but Jose Valverde retired Alcides Escobar for his 40th save in 40 chances.
"Every time you lose a one-run game, you hate it," Yost said. "We had a two-run lead and we couldn't hold it in the eighth."
Eric Hosmer had a pair of solo homers for Kansas City, which has dropped four of six. Hosmer connected in the second and the fourth, hitting a drive to right on a 1-2 pitch each time.
"You tell yourself you don't want to go down swinging and I got two pitches that were up," he said. "But good teams find ways to win games in the later innings, and that's what they did."
Kansas City added two more runs in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Gordon hit a leadoff single and scored on Cabrera's double. Cabrera then scored when Young couldn't Billy Butler's drive to left and misplayed it again while trying to pick it up.
Jackson scored each of Detroit's first two runs, on Young's sacrifice fly in the first and Nate Adcock's wild pitch in the third.
Kansas City helped itself on defense. Rookie Johnny Giavotella made four highlight-reel plays at second base, and Gordon robbed Avila with a leaping catch as he crashed into the fence in left.
"When I talked to Ned a couple days ago, he said he was very happy that his players aren't just hitters -- they play defense," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's what you need -- two-way players."