KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Teams are supposed to play better at home than on the road, regardless of the sport. There’s a certain familiarity to sleeping in your own bed, driving yourself to the ballpark and playing in front of a stadium full of loyal fans.
Well, the Royals have done their best to disprove that notion.
They squandered a lead at Kauffman Stadium for the third straight time Friday night, this one when Miguel Montero’s two-run double in the eighth inning gave the Arizona Diamondbacks a 6-4 win.
Kansas City dropped to 4-16 at home, by far the worst mark in the majors.
“The bottom line: We’ve got to play better,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We can come up with all the excuses, all the reasons why, but the bottom line is we just need to play better and put our game together at little better. We need to pitch better and hit better at home.
“We’ve been really good on the road,” he said. “We need to find a way to do it at home.”
The Royals are 11-7 away from home, one of the best records in baseball.
It’s when they return to the site of this summer’s All-Star game that everything seems to go haywire. Kansas City lost every game on a 10-game homestand to start the year, and is 0-3 on this trip home, after getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the week.
“I can’t explain it,” Royals starter Luis Mendoza said.
The Royals certainly had their chances against Arizona, tying the game in the seventh inning. Kelvin Herrera (0-1) gave up back-to-back singles to Willie Bloomquist and Justin Upton to start the eighth, though, and Montero’s double off Tim Collins made the difference.
Relievers Brad Ziegler (3-1) and Craig Breslow got the game to J.J. Putz, who worked around a two-out walk to Billy Butler in the ninth for his eighth save of the season.
“It was a big win for us,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.
Chris Young came off the disabled list to add a pair of RBIs for Arizona, which has won consecutive games for the first time since April 29-May 1. Young had been out since hurting his right shoulder running into a wall during a game against Pittsburgh on April 17.
Gibson put him at designated hitter Friday night, allowing him to get some at-bats without having to test his shoulder in the outfield. It was the first time he’d played DH in 776 games the option isn’t available unless Arizona is playing in an AL ballpark.
“It’s a way different lineup with him in it,” Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders said. “It gives us more balance, more power. It gives us more opportunities to do different things.”
Arizona struck early on Montero’s run-scoring double in the first, but that’s all they could manage until the sixth. Mendoza retired the next 12 batters he faced.
The Royals jumped on Saunders in the second inning with back-to-back singles by Johnny Giavotella and Mike Moustakas. Mitch Maier grounded back to Saunders, but his throw to second base was high, preventing Arizona from turning a double play and putting runners on the corners.
Humberto Quintero followed with a two-run double, his third straight two-RBI game.
Butler pushed the Royals’ lead to 3-1 with his homer to center leading off the third. It was his seventh of the year, a total he didn’t reach last season until July 22.
Arizona finally solved Mendoza in the sixth inning.
Gerardo Parra, Bloomquist and Upton all singled in the span of four pitches, bringing the Diamondbacks within 3-2. Montero struck out to bring up Young, who picked up the hot hitting he was doing before getting hurt by lacing a two-run double into the left-field corner.
Kansas City answered in the bottom half of the inning.
Irving Falu doubled to right and advanced to third on Butler’s groundout. Gibson drew in the infield to protect the plate, but the move backfired when Alex Gordon slapped a tying single past first baseman Paul Goldschmidt a ground ball that he normally could have fielded.
Montero made that a moot point with his go-ahead double off Collins in the eighth.
“It’s not out of our mind that we’re better on the road. It’s just something we have to overcome,” Collins said. “Tonight could have been a big win for us, but those last two runs kind of killed us.”
The Royals left nine on base. … The Diamondbacks sent OF A.J. Pollock to Triple-A Reno to make room for Young. … KC LHP Danny Duffy and RHP Blake Wood were examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum on Friday in Tempe, Ariz. Both are scheduled for Tommy John surgery in the next two weeks. … LHP Everett Teaford will make a spot start for Kansas City on Saturday night against the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)