Royals rally for win over Devil Rays

Royals rally for win over Devil Rays

KANSAS CITY -- Uh-oh. Oh, no. Not again. The Royals had seen this all too often this season.

Jorge Cantu, a pinch-hitter in Tampa Bay's ninth inning Saturday night, cracked reliever Mike Wood's first pitch toward the left-field wall.

"I'm thinking they're going to tie it up," Royals interim manager Bob Schaefer said, "and then they might go ahead."

Left fielder Terrence Long went back, back, jumped and he caught the ball and the Royals caught a rare break. Their 6-5 victory over the Devil Rays was preserved.

The Royals finally had broken into double digits with their 10th victory and Wood had the first save of his professional career.

"It was," Wood said, smiling, "an oops save."

Behind 4-3, the Royals shook loose for three runs in the eighth. Devil Rays reliever Jesus Colome gave up a leadoff single to Tony Graffanino and walked Matt Stairs.

"Everybody thinks Emil Brown might be bunting, but he ain't bunting," Schaefer said. "Hitters don't bunt and bunters don't hit. If he goes 0-and-1, he might bunt, but I'm going to win the game right there."

Brown ripped Colome's first pitch into the left-center alley and Graffanino was pedal to the metal with pinch-runner Joe McEwing in his draft. Third-base coach Luis Silverio had the green light glowing.

"You're going until the third-base coach stops you," McEwing said. "I wasn't expecting to be stopped, either."

No hesitation. No relay throw, either, because shortstop Julio Lugo dropped the ball. Brown's double put the Royals up 5-4. He scored later in the inning as Mark Teahen rapped into a force out.

Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez, "The Horse," was able to buck off a personal five-game losing skid. He hadn't won since his first outing of the season.

After falling behind 1-0 on Lugo's first-inning homer, the Royals got him a 3-1 lead in the second against Hideo Nomo. But that vanished in the Devil Rays' three-run sixth when Nick Green delivered an RBI single and Chris Singleton bashed a two-run double.

"It was a great pitch, it was a sinker away," Hernandez said of the Singleton hit. "I take my hat off -- I say congratulations. It was great location, but he hit it."

Once the Brown-fueled eighth put the Royals ahead by two, Hernandez's evening was over.

"He wanted to finish it, but he was coming out in the ninth, no matter what. But he's a horse, a great competitor, and he kept us right there," Schaefer said.

Rookie left-hander Andrew Sisco was summoned to close the deal.

Green led off with a single, but Sisco got a foul pop and a strikeout. Green was ceded second base and scored on Alex Gonzalez's single. That's when Schaefer switched to Wood.

He threw one pitch, a fastball, and it jumped off Cantu's bat.

"I knew I made a mistake," Wood said. "It was supposed to be on the corner and it got in the middle of the plate."

Long retreated.

"I was going back and, once I felt the track, I thought, 'OK, that wall's coming up real soon,' " Long said. "So once I hit that track with my second step, I just jumped."

Catch made. Game over.

"It was definitely a low-pitch outing," Wood said.

This was the 14th one-run decision for the Royals and only the fourth they have won.

"We've lost a bunch of tough games, and we just get hammered from everywhere, from the TV to the paper or whatever you look at it," Brown said.

"Man, you know what, let's have a stretch where we get the breaks the other teams have been getting against us."

Well, there's one.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.