Royals take series against Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Salvador Perez gave the Royals a late lift Wednesday night heading into a key midseason series.

Perez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the ninth inning and Kansas City beat Tampa Bay 5-4 to take two of three from the Rays.

The second-place Royals return home Thursday night to begin a four-game series against AL Central-leading Detroit, which has a 4 1/2-game lead.

Aaron Crow (4-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Greg Holland got three outs for his 24th save. All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon (sprained right wrist) and third baseman Mike Moustakas (flu) were not in Kansas City’s starting lineup. In addition, left-hander Jason Vargas was taken to the hospital for an appendectomy. Gordon entered as a ninth-inning defensive replacement. He will have an MRI exam Thursday.

Yordano Ventura gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out five.