David Lough had himself a game on Sunday, hitting three doubles and the go-ahead solo home run, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 9-8 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Lough's solo home run came in the eighth inning. The Royals bullpen had just coughed up a three-run lead, leaving the game tied 7-7. The rightfielder turned on a 1-0 Jared Burton fastball, powering the pitch over the right field wall.
The Twins plated the first runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Justin Morneau drew a leadoff walk against Ervin Santana, then Oswaldo Arcia followed with a one-out walk. Chris Parmelee then hit a double off the right-field wall, which scored Morneau. A quick relay by Lough helped keep Arcia at third, which would prove pivotal.
Eduardo Escobar lined out to second base, and Johnny Giavotella nearly doubled Parmelee off second base. The ball was well-placed for the Royals, as it would have likely gone for a hit had the infield been at normal depth. Santana fanned Pedro Florimon to end the inning.
Kansas City scrapped together a pair of runs to take the lead in the top of the third inning in very Royal fashion. Lorenzo Cain led off the inning with an infield single, then Lough blooped a double to shallow right field, advancing Cain to third. Giavotella followed with the second infield hit of the inning, driving in Cain.
Alex Gordon picked up the second RBI of the inning, driving in Lough from third with a deep sacrifice fly to centerfield. Alcides Escobar struck out and Eric Hosmer hit a flyout to end the inning.
The Royals increased their lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Billy Butler drew a leadoff walk, then Mike Moustakas hit a one-out single to put two runners on. Cain nearly hit a three-run homer, just hooking the ball foul, but ended up flying out for the second out of the inning.
Lough came through in the clutch with a two-out double, driving in Butler and Moustakas with a line drive off the rightfield wall. Giavotella followed Lough with a single to left field, picking up his second RBI of the day to give the Royals a 5-1 lead.
Minnesota climbed back into the game thanks to a mistake from Santana and some poor infield defense. Florimon slapped a single to start the inning, then Clete Thomas crushed a two-run homer. Santana hung an 0-1 slider, and Thomas yanked the pitch over the right field wall.
Santana then forced what should have been four straight outs, but only two were recorded. Ryan Doumit reached base when Escobar booted a groundball, then Moustakas booted a Parmelee ground ball, putting two runners on with two outs. Arcia hit a single, driving in Doumit and cutting the Royals lead to one.
The Royals offense responded with a pair of runs off reliever Ryan Pressly in the sixth. Lough got things started with his third double of the day, giving the Royals a runner on second with one out. Giavotella then blooped a flyball in-between Florimon, Thomas and Arcia, and hustled into second for a double. Lough could only advance to third, as he had to wait and see if the ball would drop for a hit.
Ron Gardenhire ordered Pressly to intentionally walk Gordon, bringing Escobar to the plate with the bases loaded. Escobar delivered, lining a two-run single to leftfield. Hosmer ground into a double-play to end the inning, but Kansas City had extended their lead 7-4.
Santana ended up throwing six innings, allowing four runs on five hits. The right-hander struck out five, but did issue four walks. Minnesota had runners reach against Santana in every inning except the first, but the starter did an acceptable job of limiting the damage.
Tim Collins melted down in the seventh inning, allowing the Twins to climb back into the game. Doumit hit an infield single to leadoff the inning; Escobar made a spectacular diving play to grab the ball, but Doumit hustled and beat out the throw. Morneau then crushed a belt high fastball on a 1-1 count, hitting the Twins second two-run homer of the day.
Collins issued walks to Trevor Plouffe and Parmelee, recording an Arcia groundout in-between the walks. Ned Yost then replaced Collins with Aaron Crow, and Gardenhire sent Josh Willingham to the plate as a pinch hitter. Willingham blasted a ground-rule double, driving in Arcia and sending Parmelee to third. The Royals were fortunate that the ball hopped over the fence, as Parmelee may have scored if it did not.
Crow worked out of the jam, striking out Florimon and forcing a Thomas groundout, but the game was tied 7-7 heading into the eighth inning. The reliever tossed a scoreless eighth after the Lough homer put the Royals ahead for good.
Hosmer gave the Royals an insurance run in the ninth inning, driving a Josh Roenicke fastball the to left-center for his seventh home run of the season.
The first baseman's home run proved important as Plouffe hit a solo homer off Greg Holland to start the ninth inning. The closer recovered after the homer, striking out the final three batters to record his 17th save of the season.
Lough became the fifth Royal to ever hit four extra-base hits in a single game, according to Kansas City Stats:
@JPosnanski @Royals_Report Royals w/ 4 extra-base hits in a game: 1974 McRae, 1979 Brett, 1986 Lonnie Smith, 2000 Damon, 2013 David Lough.— Kansas City Stats (@KansasCityStats) June 30, 2013
Giavotella chipped in with three hits, but his were more of the BABIP-fairy variety then well struck balls. Still, it was nice to see the second baseman produce offensively, and look solid in the field as well. Butler also had a multi-hit game, while Gordon drew three walks.
The Royals improved to 38-41 on the season, and will have an off-day Monday before returning home to face the Cleveland Indians for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.