The Kansas City Royals picked up a quality road series victory on Sunday, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 for their third victory at Tropicana Field in four days.
The Royals put a run on the board in the top of the first inning. Roberto Hernandez hit Alex Gordon to start off the inning, then Eric Hosmer swapped spots with Gordon on a fielder's choice. Hosmer advanced to second on a Salvador Perez groundout, then to third on a passed by Jose Molina, finally scoring on a Billy Butler single.
Wade Davis promptly surrendered the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Matt Joyce led off with a single, but Ben Zobrist followed with a sharp groundball at Hosmer. The ball bounced of Hosmer's glove back to Davis, who recorded the out at first, but Joyce moved to second.
Luke Scott continued his torrid hitting with a one-out double, driving in Joyce. Scott later scored on a two-out single from Desmond Jennings, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead.
Davis settled down nicely, only allowing two more baserunners over his final five innings. The right-hander struck out four and walked two in six innings. I'm starting to warm up to Davis in the starting rotation, especially if he can keep his walks under control.
Jeff Francoeur tied the game up in the top of the fifth with a leadoff solo home run. The Royals regained the lead with a two-out rally in the sixth. Elliot Johnson just missed his second home run of the series, but settled with a two-out double. Joe Maddon then intentionally walked Francoeur, bringing Alcides Escobar up to the plate.
Escobar hit a clutch single, driving Johnson in from second. Gordon followed with a two-out single of his own, and Francoeur barely beat the throw home to score the Royals fourth run of the day.
Tampa Bay tried to give the Royals some free runs in the seventh. Salvador Perez hit a flyball to shallow left field, but Scott dropped the popout. Following outs by Butler and David Lough, Mike Moustakas drew a walk, and Johnson loaded the bases after reaching on a dropped third strike. Jeff Francoeur hit a flyout on the first pitch to end the threat.
The Royals added an insurance run in the eighth. Escobar led off with a double, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Royals a 5-2 lead.
Aaron Crow faced two batters, recording an out and allowing a single before Ned Yost yanked him for Tim Collins. Collins worked the final two outs in the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth before surrendering for Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera forced a flyout to centerfield for the last out of the eighth. Greg Holland surrendered a solo home run to Jose Lobaton in the ninth, but recorded three strikeouts to close out the game.
The Royals start a three-game series on Monday against the Cleveland Indians. Kansas City is ½ game back behind Cleveland for 2nd place in the AL Central.