KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Whenever a Royals pitcher has issued a walk lately, the runner has usually scored. So when Ned Yost’s own guys worked a pair of walks against the Yankees on Saturday night in the sixth inning of a tied game, the often-dour manager had an optimistic thought.
“Let’s turn it around this time,” Yost said.
Salvador Perez did just that.
The big catcher belted a three-run homer into the bullpen in left field, and Eric Hosmer added a solo shot later in the game, sending Kansas City to an 8-4 victory over New York.
“I’ve said all along, I thought we have home-run power,” said Yost, whose team has hit just 26 homers — by far the fewest in the majors. “It’ll manifest itself in time.”
Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki drove in a run apiece as the Royals bounced back from an offensively inept performance in a 4-2 series-opening loss Friday night.
Aaron Crow (3-1) retired one batter in the sixth in relief of starter Danny Duffy, and breezed through the seventh to earn the victory. Kelvin Herrera and Michael Mariot finished it off.
David Phelps (1-4) allowed seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.
“Frustrating is the PG-rated word for it,” he said. “I was pitching decent going into later parts of games, but it’s tough to win ballgames when you give up four runs in the sixth and seventh inning. It’s frustrating.”
Yangervis Solarte drove in a pair of runs for New York, and Carlos Beltran — who’s been bothered by an ailing elbow and is still relegated to designated hitter duty — got an RBI with his first hit since coming off the disabled list Thursday.
“It’s like starting over for me,” Beltran said. “One day, two days is not going to do it, any difference. Basically you have to play every day and with playing time that will come. I cannot tell you [when]. I wish I could know.”
The Royals struck first when Billy Butler and Gordon led off the second inning with back-to-back doubles, and Cain and Escobar provided run-scoring singles for a 3-0 lead.
It took the Yankees until the sixth to answer.
Derek Jeter started the rally with a single and Mark Teixeira kept it going with a two-out walk. Beltran followed with an RBI double against his former team, and Solarte tied the game 3-all when his sinking liner to center field dropped just beyond Cain’s outstretched glove.
Duffy, who appeared bothered by lengthy waits for television breaks between innings, was eventually removed after allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.
The Royals made sure to pick him up.
Butler and Gordon worked walks to start the bottom half of the sixth, earning Phelps a visit from Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. It didn’t do any good. Two pitches later, Perez sent a no-doubt homer into the bullpen in left field to restore the Royals’ three-run lead.
“We needed that,” Perez said. “It’s not been easy, but it’s coming.”
Cain tripled later in the inning, and Aoki’s RBI single knocked Phelps from the game.
“We just scored three runs. That’s the worst kind of team error right there,” Phelps said. “To go out and we have all the momentum right there and in nine pitches gave it right back.”
It was another poor outing by the Yankees right-hander, who moved from the bullpen into the rotation last month. Phelps has lost four straight decisions, allowing 16 runs in the past three.
Hosmer’s homer leading off the seventh was his first since May 5, a span of 130 at-bats, and Brian Roberts tacked on a run off Mariot in the ninth inning that proved to be moot.
“You’ve got to keep battling back,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re still fighting.”