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Perez Plays Hero as Royals Top Rangers Late, 4-3

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"Nobody can take my job, man" - Salvador Perez to Joel Golderg after the game. Right you are, Sheriff.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

When you've lost nine of your last 11 games like the Kansas City Royals had entering Sunday, all you look for is anything to buck the trend. Eventually, some of the grounders roll through, some of the foul balls slice fair, and you find a way to get a big hit in the right situation.

On Sunday, Salvador Perez provided exactly what Kansas City needed.

The leading vote-getter in the All Star game fan vote smashed a 1-2 pitch from reliever Keone Kela into the Royals bullpen to give his team a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning, helping the Royals salvage a game in the three-game series with the Rangers. The blast occurred after a brilliant outing from Jeremy Guthrie was wiped away after a rally by Texas, but the strong start combined with the late-inning surge showed signs that the Royals are coming out of their recent funk.

After plating just two runs in the first 18 innings of the series, the Royals needed just five pitches and three hitters to get on the scoreboard on Sunday. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas both lined singles to put runners on the corners for Eric Hosmer, who swung at a first-pitch curveball from Colby Lewis and drilled it to center field. It eventually came down just shy of the warning track, but the drive was deep enough to plate Escobar on a sac fly. Amazingly, it was the first time the Royals had a lead since Wednesday.

The next inning, Escobar plated Omar Infante with a sacrifice fly of his own, doubling Kansas City's lead to 2-0. In the fifth, Kendrys Morales crushed a two-out double to plate the Royals' third run of the game. In front of over 38,000 fans at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals were cruising to what appeared to be an easy win, and Jeremy Guthrie's dominance was a big reason why.

Guthrie cruised through the first 6 1/3 innings, surrendering just one hit in the process. It was with one out in the seventh that he got into trouble by yielding consecutive singles, and Ned Yost lifted him from the game for Kelvin Herrera at that point. The flame-throwing reliever allowed singles to the first two hitters he faced, which cut the score to 3-2 and put the tying run on third base with just one out. Texas would tie the game at three on a groundout. Guthrie's final line: 6.1 innings, three hits, two runs, two walks, and a season-best five strikeouts. If you take out the Yankees game on Memorial Day (which was one of the worst starts in baseball history, but still), Guthrie has actually been pretty solid over the past month. Aside from the disaster in the Bronx, he's allowed just seven runs in his last five starts.

In the eighth, Salvador Perez stepped into the box in front of a very quiet Kauffman Stadium. He fell behind in the count 0-2. He then walloped an ill-advised fastball into the bullpen, putting the Royals in front to stay. It was his team-leading eighth home run of the year, his second in two games. As a result, Wade Davis (3-1), who had pitched a scoreless top of the eighth, earned the win. Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth inning on just nine pitches to earn his ninth save of the year.

Kela (4-2) took the loss. Colby Lewis worked through some early issues to turn in a quality start for Texas, holding the Royals to three runs on eight hits over seven innings.

Two notes from this game:

1. Ned Yost won his 404th game as Royals manager on Sunday. He is now tied with Dick Howser for second in team history, and he's six wins behind Whitey Herzog's 410, which leads the franchise.

2. Wade Davis turned in his 106th straight homerless inning, which is a new Royals record.

Next, the Royals will look to get back to winning series when they take on the first-place Minnesota Twins. Kansas City hasn't won a series since taking two of three from the Cardinals two weekends ago. Jason Vargas (4-2, 4.79 ERA) will take the ball at Target Field. Opposing him is right-hander Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.96).

It's one game. They've still lost nine of 12. But the best catcher in baseball (hi, Cardinals fans) is the most valuable player on the Royals, and on Sunday, he gave fans reason to believe that the tides are turning in Kansas City.