"It's definitely a game we should have won," Hillman said.
Indeed. The Royals had given starter Gil Meche a 5-1 lead and all seemed well. The Rangers made two outs in the eighth inning and then things began to unravel.
"We played great baseball for 7 2/3 [innings] and just quit, basically what it was," Buck said.
Meche pitched six innings, wiggling out of a big jam in the last of them, and reliever Ron Mahay reeled off five straight outs.
Mahay walked Michael Young but, oh well, Josh Hamilton hit a ground ball to shortstop Mike Aviles. Thunk. Teahen botched the throw and Hamilton was safe.
"I dropped it, cut and dry," Teahen said. "It sunk on me, it handcuffed me and I dropped the ball. What can you do?"
It's what the Rangers did next that counted. Brett Tomko relieved Mahay and gave up a two-run double to Milton Bradley and a RBI single to David Murphy.
It was 5-4 and Yasuhiko Yabuta was summoned to replace Tomko. Gerald Laird and Chris Shelton each singled and the tying run was produced.
Closer Joakim Soria was not available to help quell all this turmoil. He had pitched in three of the past four games. And that wasn't all.
"He's got a little tightness in his left glute, plus the pitch totals and what we've done with him three of the last four," Hillman said.
"He's just a little tight. It's something along with the pitch totals I wasn't prepared to put him out there and risk injury."
Yabuta began the ninth by giving up a double to Ian Kinsler, who moved to third base on Young's groundout. Ramon Ramirez arrived from the bullpen to strike out Hamilton and intentionally walk Bradley.
While Ramirez pitched to Murphy, a sinking fastball got away from Buck and slithered several feet away.
"I was just going," Kinsler said. "The ball got by him, I was gone."
Buck recovered quickly and flipped the ball to Ramirez at the plate, but Kinsler beat the tag.
"It was a sinker and it kind of cut. I know Ramirez does that every once in awhile and I just missed it, plain and simple," Buck said.
"I've caught worse, I've blocked worse. I just missed it."
The unfortunate events of the last two innings nullified the contributions of red-hot Jose Guillen. He had another three hits and is batting .380 (49-for-129) since May 7.
Guillen drove in the Royals' first run off Kevin Millwood, and Alex Gordon contributed a solo home run, his sixth. Buck had two singles and an RBI and leads the Majors with a .474 average (18-for-38) with runners in scoring position.
Also wiped out was a potential victory for Meche, who hasn't won since May 15. He held the Rangers to four hits and finally avoided the dreaded big inning, escaping a big jam in the sixth.
"I kept the ball down and that's been my biggest problem, giving too good a pitch to hit in certain situations," Meche said. "And getting out of that bases-loaded [jam], no outs with one run, I'll take that any time."
The game concluded without Hillman, who received his first Major League ejection from home-plate umpire Mike Everitt in the eighth inning over a strike call on the Royals' Joey Gathright.
"I didn't think it was strike," Hillman said. "I voiced my opinion and he didn't let it go. He wanted to continue the conversation. I didn't want to let it go."
Hillman vaulted over the dugout rail to jaw at length with Everitt before being led away by crew chief Tim McClelland.
The Royals had one last shot in the ninth against reliever C.J. Wilson. After two outs, Gordon singled and Guillen was safe on an error. Up came Teahen who, on a 0-2 pitch, looked at strike three.
"Again the team did what we need to do to put us in position and I didn't really come through," Teahen said.