KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alcides Escobar hit a bases-loaded double, Alex Gordon matched a career high with four RBIs and the Kansas City Royals cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and a sweep of their day-night doubleheader.
Escobar fell behind 0-2 against Brandon Gomes (1-4) in the sixth inning before battling back to a full count. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, Escobar yanked a fair ball just down the third-base line, emptying the bases and breaking a 1-all deadlock.
Brandon Finnegan (2-0), Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson made the lead stand in relief of Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who allowed only John Jaso’s homer in five innings.
The victory in Game 2 came after Paulo Orlando hit a ninth-inning grand slam to give Kansas City a 9-5 win in the opener. It also stuck Tampa Bay with its ninth loss in 10 games.
The doubleheader was caused by a massive storm that caused numerous tornado warnings in the Kansas City area Monday night. While it was cloudy and dry for Game 1 on Tuesday, steady rain fell throughout the nightcap, forcing many fans to watch from the concourse.
In the opener, the Rays had rallied to tie it at 5 before Orlando came to the plate in the ninth. All-Star closer Brad Boxberger (4-5) threw him a changeup and the Brazilian pounded it into the bullpen in left for his first career slam.
“Just one of those days when I couldn’t make a pitch when I needed to,” Boxberger said.
The Rays had just tied the game off Royals closer Greg Holland (3-0), who allowed a leadoff triple to Kevin Kiermaier in the ninth but looked as if he may get bailed out.
Kiermaier slid over the bag and was tagged, but umpire Chris Segal ruled he got back in time. The call stood after a review of 4 minutes, 12 seconds. Holland then walked Curt Casali and struck out Grady Sizemore before a wild pitch allowed Kiermaier to score the tying run.
Gordon homered and Kendrys Morales also drove in a pair of runs for the Royals, who won despite playing an unorthodox lineup due to injuries and other circumstances.
All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain got the doubleheader off due to an ailing hamstring. Third baseman Mike Moustakas missed both games on the bereavement list. And All-Star catcher Salvador Perez got the opener off because he was due to start the nightcap.
James Loney and Evan Longoria each homered in the opener for Tampa Bay.
“It wasn’t our cleanest day,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Game 1, but summing up the doubleheader nicely. “We know we have to play clean baseball. We did not today.”
NEWS AND NOTES
Jaso had been on the DL since bruising his left wrist on opening day. … Royals 3B Cheslor Cuthbert started both games. He got his first career hit in the third inning of the opener. … The Royals have had five game-ending grand slams, the last by Justin Maxwell two years ago.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (strained left oblique) made his second rehab start Monday at Triple-A Charlotte: He allowed two hits and a walk in 5 2-3 scoreless innings.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) was supposed to throw 60 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday. That will happen Wednesday because of the doubleheader.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (9-5) starts Wednesday against Kansas City for the first time since becoming an All-Star on Monday.
Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-5) tries to beat Tampa Bay for the third straight time.