Royals crack 3 HRs, trip up Giants in finale

Royals crack 3 HRs, trip up Giants in finale

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Royals faced off against their former teammate, Johnny Cueto, on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park, belting a trio of homers in a 7-2 win against the Giants to take both games of the two-contest series.

After Mike Moustakas led off the top of the second with a solo shot, Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain went back-to-back in the third as the Royals built a four-run lead. The Royals matched a season high with their fourth straight win.

Meanwhile, Royals right-hander Jason Hammel silenced the Giants' bats, tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts. Hammel issued one walk, his first since May 29 -- a span of 79 batters faced. It was his third straight quality start.

Hammel's strong start

"I thought he used his slider effectively, and got some big outs with it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His last [few] starts, he's really come on."

Cueto (5-6) exited the contest after 5 2/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs on 10 hits and three walks while striking out five, as his ERA rose to 4.57.

"For him to give up three home runs, that's not Johnny," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Pitch count was up there. He was just off a little bit today."

Cueto strikes out Butera

Though he had been dealing with blisters on his throwing hand recently, Cueto didn't use them as an excuse. Cueto, who won the 2015 World Series with the Royals, also said his familiarity with the team wasn't a factor in his poor outing.

"I left those three pitches hanging, and they beat me," Cueto said via translator Erwin Higueros. "My hand is fine. I just had a bad day. The only thing I can do is to continue working."

Yost on Hammel's strong start

Austin Slater recorded an RBI single for the Giants in the fourth inning, and Eduardo Nunez added another in the ninth.

Nunez's RBI single

Missed chance: The Giants didn't have many scoring opportunities on Wednesday, but Brandon Crawford came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, representing the tying run. After a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, Crawford waved at a Hammel slider on the inside part of the plate to end the threat.

"That was a big pitch," Hammel said. "It was still a close game and a hit there makes it even closer. It was good to execute a pitch down and in there."

"If you don't have a lot of power, you're not a home run-hitting club, you need to get those timely hits," Bochy said. "Our guys aren't having a good year with men on base. We were 2-for-10 today [with runners in scoring position]. You look at the numbers, until the heart of our order starts delivering the timely hitting, it's going to be tough to score. But we've got them out there. We've had our chances."

Bochy on loss to Royals

Back to back: Bonifacio dominated in Kansas City's brief stint by the Bay. He collected three RBIs for the second straight contest Wednesday, highlighted by his two-run homer in the third. Cain added insult to injury when he lined an 0-1 changeup from Cueto out to left field for a solo shot in the next at-bat. Given the Giants' anemic offense lately, the four-run lead provided plenty of cushion for Hammel and the Royals.

Bonifacio's two-run homer

Bonifacio recently came out of an 0-for-13 slump.

"You get to about the 100 at-bat mark, and the league figures you out," Yost said. "But good hitters adjust back. And that's what Boni has done."

Bonifacio on the Royals' win

"The way we're swinging, it's a steep climb to get four or five runs. It shouldn't be. That's what's frustrating. I can tell you this -- for those guys, too -- this is humbling to go through something like this. You keep pushing, keep fighting. That's what we're going to do. " -- Bochy

"I didn't know until [Eric Hosmer] told me. I guess it bounced in. But it's all good -- a homer is a homer." -- Moustakas, on sending one into McCovey Cove

Moustakas' solo home run

Cain's home run left his bat at just an 18-degree launch angle, the lowest for any Cain homer in the Statcast™ era.

Royals: Left-hander Matt Strahm (1-3, 4.50 ERA) makes his first Major League start on Thursday as the Royals open a four-game series with the Angels in Anaheim at 9:07 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Strahm has made 41 relief outings, but he has never faced the Angels.

Giants: The Giants will head back out on the road, starting with a four-game series against the division-leading Rockies. Left-hander Matt Moore (2-7, 5.28 ERA) will hope to turn things around against Colorado's red-hot right-hander Jeff Hoffman (4-0, 2.33 ERA). First pitch is at 5:40 p.m. PT on MLB.TV.

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Alex Espinoza is a reporter for based in the Bay Area.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.