Royals burned late by Rangers' powerful bats

Royals burned late by Rangers' powerful bats

KANSAS CITY -- Pinch-hitter Mike Napoli blasted a go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh inning off Royals reliever Mike Minor, and the Rangers came back from a three-run deficit for a 5-3 win on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Napoli, who was surprisingly not in the starting lineup for the first game of the second half, pounced on a 2-2 changeup and launched it a projected 444 feet, per Statcast™, to left field, scoring Carlos Gomez ahead of him. It was the first pinch-hit home run for the Rangers since May 19, 2015, when Leonys Martin homered at Boston.

"Any time you can come through like that late in the game, it's always fun," Napoli said. "Especially coming off the bench in a pinch-hitting situation. It's tough, but I just got ready to play and put a good swing on it."

"We had a couple of routes we could have gone in that at-bat," Minor said, "but I thought the [changeup] was the right pitch. It just came back over the plate. If I execute the pitch, we're fine."

Perez's strong outing

Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (5-6) started and picked up the win, going seven innings while giving up eight hits and three runs. Perez had been 2-15 in his last 28 road starts before Friday. Alex Claudio earned his second save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth to secure Perez's third win in his last 29 road starts.

Claudio notches the save

"I felt great," Perez said. "I was attacking hitters, trying to go long in the game. I threw my pitches down and mixed them up."

Royals right-hander Jason Hammel carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning but faded there, giving up four hits and three runs through 5 2/3 innings. He worked with an early lead as Alcides Escobar hit a two-run home run, his third, off the left-field foul pole in the second inning.

Hammel fans four in 5 2/3 frames

Beltre passes Yaz: Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, with the score 3-0, tied it in the sixth with a three-run home run off Hammel. It was his 453rd career home run, passing Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for 38th on the all-time list. The rally started when Elvis Andrus produced the first hit off Hammel with one out on a routine chopper off Hammel's glove that rolled to Whit Merrifield at second base, but Merrifield's glove-hand throw to first was late. Nomar Mazara sliced a single to left, and then Beltre ripped a hanging slider on a 2-2 count for a home run to left. More >

Beltre's three-run home run

"You take back the one pitch and he was outstanding," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The pitch was down, but Beltre's a good player."

Hammel was disappointed he didn't let Andrus' grounder go without deflecting it.

"I turned and asked Whit if he was there and he said 'Yeah.' But if you don't try for those and they go through, it's on you."

Turning two proves big: Perez had two more double plays turned behind him, giving him 17 for the season. That's the second most in the American League. The second one came in the sixth inning with the score tied at 3. Eric Hosmer led off with a single, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, and Salvador Perez followed with a hard grounder to the right side. Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor made a tough stop going to his left, and he was able to turn it into a crucial double play.

Odor starts nice double play

"That was a tough play for anybody," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That was the huge play of the night."

"It was a situation where we had a veteran on the bench. That's what he is here for. We felt it was time to pull the trigger on him." -- Banister, on using Napoli as a pinch-hitter for Joey Gallo in the seventh

Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels will start against the Royals at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Hamels did not allow a run in his last 13 1/3 innings before the All-Star break. He gave up one run in eight innings in his previous outing against the Royals on April 21.

Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (5-5, 3.76 ERA) will face the Rangers in the middle game on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Duffy gave up six hits and five runs over seven innings in his previous start on Sunday against the Dodgers.

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

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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