Whit's 19th HR powers Royals past D-backs

Whit's 19th HR powers Royals past D-backs

KANSAS CITY -- Whit Merrifield hit the go-ahead home run and the Royals' bullpen tossed four scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the D-backs on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy had his best outing since July 26, when he held the Tigers to one run over six innings. This time, Kennedy held the D-backs to four hits and one run over five innings while striking out seven. That was enough to end his club-record home winless streak at 18 games.

"I think it was August when I found out I hadn't won at home," Kennedy said. "I was like, 'I'll get one, I'll get one.' And then, I forgot all about it. It's been such an up and down year health-wise. … All I care about is if we win as a team."

Minor locks down the save

Left-hander Mike Minor got his fifth save.

D-backs starter Zack Greinke went four-plus innings in his final tuneup before his expected start in Wednesday's National League Wild Card game. Greinke threw 75 pitches and gave up six hits and two runs while walking two and striking out four.

"It felt good," Greinke said. "Healthy, making pitches. I didn't win the game, that was not ideal, but I felt good out there."

Lamb's homer sets D-backs record

Jake Lamb clubbed his 30th home run in the second inning -- giving the D-backs a franchise-record 217th home run this season and breaking the previous mark of 216 in 1999.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Alexander the great: The D-backs were threatening in the seventh with two out. First, J.D. Martinez doubled off right-hander Peter Moylan, who then was replaced by lefty Scott Alexander to face Lamb. But Alexander walked Lamb on four pitches, putting the potential go-ahead run on. Alexander, however, came back to strike out A.J. Pollock.

Alexander strikes out Pollock

"I thought the double play that Jack [right-hander Joakim Soria] got on J.D. Martinez in the eighth was equally as big," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Nearing a special club: Merrifield gave the Royals a 2-1 lead in the third when he jumped on a Greinke two-seamer and sent it a projected 410 feet, according to Statcast™, into the left-field seats. The shot was Merrifield's 19th home run. And with his 33 steals, Merrifield is one homer from joining the 20-30 club. He would become the third Royal in that club -- Carlos Beltran did it in three straight seasons starting in 2001, and Amos Otis did it in 1978.

"I'd like it [No. 20]," Merrifield said. "I'm not gonna lie. I would like to hit one more. I've been trying for a while to hit a couple more. I've got probably eight or nine at-bats left to try to do it. So we'll give it a shot."

Merrifield said hitting a homer will be his focus on Saturday and Sunday.

"There's no way to go up there and not try to hit a homer at this point," he said. "I don't want to go up there and try to hit it 500 feet. I still want to put a good swing on it. But there's a little more consciousness in putting a driving swing on it."

WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: Right-hander Taijuan Walker will start as the D-backs take on the Royals at 4:15 p.m. MST on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Walker is coming off an outing in which he hurt himself with two errors in third inning, as he allowed seven runs (three earned) over 3 2/3 innings against the Marlins.

Royals: Rookie right-hander Jakob Junis (8-3, 4.39 ERA) starts the middle game against the D-backs on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Junis had his six-game winning streak snapped on Monday at Yankee Stadium as he gave up six runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.

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

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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