Kansas City Royals

Run-challenged Royals lose to Rangers

Start with Jurickson Profar’s two-out homer in the eighth inning against J.C. Gutierrez.

That’s where it has to start Sunday because Profar’s tie-breaking homer lifted the Texas Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Royals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Gutierrez inherited a 1-1 tie from Ervin Santana to start the eighth after the Royals scratched out their only run in the top of the inning. The tie survived only until Profar’s homer on a 95-mph fastball on a 1-2 count.

“I tried to go backdoor with a sinker,” Gutierrez said. “I left the ball up, and he hit it pretty good.”

The 383-foot drive didn’t clear the right-field wall by much, but Profar said he knew what was coming after watching Gutierrez retire A.J. Pierzynski and Leonys Martin.

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“The guy threw the same pitches, same sequence,” Profar said. “I knew (Gutierrez) as going to do the same thing because he threw a curveball first pitch and Pierzynski and Leonys and then same to me. Then all fastballs.”

And then more.

Elvis Andrus singled and, after Tim Collins replaced Gutierrez, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by George Kottaras.

That was the fourth throwing error by a Royals catcher — three by Kottaras — in the nine games since Salvy Perez departed on bereavement leave following the death of his maternal grandmother in Venezuela.

David Murphy lined an RBI single into center for a 3-1 lead.

Joe Nathan protected that margin in the ninth for 40th career save against the Royals — the most by any opponent in franchise history.

The game ended, perhaps appropriately, with a tough call that went against the Royals. Chris Getz appeared to beat Nathan to the base on a grounder to first, but umpire Dale Scott ruled Getz out.

So start with Profar, but realize the Royals are 3-14 since a 9-5 victory at Los Angeles on May 15. That was game where Jarrod Dyson suffered an ankle injury by needlessly climbing the center-field wall in pursuit of a homer.

The whys and hows are irrelevant, but the Royals’ attack collapsed at that point. Sunday marked the 12th time in those 17 games that they failed to score more than three runs.

They have scored none or one on six occasions.

In only one of those 17 games have they scored more than three earned runs against an opposing starter.

“You can’t win games without scoring runs,” center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “It’s that simple. We just didn’t get the job done again.”

All the Royals did Sunday was deny a victory to Texas starter Yu Darvish, who pitched seven shutout innings, by scoring once in the eighth against reliever Neal Cotts.

Alex Gordon started the eighth by pulling a broken-bat flare down the right-field line for a double. It was the Royals’ only extra-base hit of the day.

Gordon took third Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice bunt, which prompted the Rangers to shorten their infield. The strategy should have worked when Eric Hosmer hit a chop to third.

But Jeff Baker made an off-line throw to the plate, and Gordon was safe with the tying run. Hosmer was safe at first on the fielder’s choice.

That stuck Darvish with a no-decision, and the Rangers went to the bullpen again for Scheppers. The chance for a bigger inning slipped away when Hosmer was thrown out when trying to steal second.

The turned into a big out when Billy Butler walked and Mike Moustakas singled, but Scheppers retired Cain on a grounder to second.

Still that one run prevented Santana from getting a loss after yielding just one unearned run and three hits in seven innings. He is winless in six starts — like James Shields — with four losses and two no-decisions.

“Same Santana,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Change-ups, sliders, moving his fastball around. He knows how to mix up his pitches. You’re looking for a change-up, and he throws a slider. That’s Santana.”

The Texas first started with what might be the sloppiest error of Escobar’s two-plus years with the Royals. He fielded a routine hopper to short from Andrus and slung-bounced a throw past Hosmer at first.

The result was a two-base error.

“When I threw the ball, it just slipped a little bit,” Escobar said. “ … I felt bad. I told myself, ‘Come on, I know I’m better than that.’ That was an easy ground ball. That’s what is happening.”

Andrus went to third on Murphy’s fly to center before scoring on Lance Berkman’s topper between home and third. Santana made a nice play to get Berkman at first, but the Rangers led 1-0.

The Royals wasted a great chance to pull even — or ahead — after loading the bases with no outs in the second inning. Butler led off with a walk before Moustakas and Cain followed with singles.

Third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez chose not to send Butler from second on Cain’s single through the left side despite the match-up against weak-throwing Murphy.

Butler did try to score when Jeff Francoeur sent a fly to center, but Craig Gentry made a strong throw to the plate for a double play. It was bang-bang close. Who knows?

“I really didn’t expect him to try to score,” Gentry said. “I knew that I had to make an accurate throw. That’s what I tried to do.”

The Royals reloaded the bases when Kottaras reached on a wild pitch after a swinging third strike, but Getz’s fly to center enabled Darvish to escape with no damage.

Darvish started the fourth by walking Butler and hitting Moustakas but struck out Cain. Francoeur flied out to center — deep enough that Butler reached third — but Kottaras struck out.

Yost pointed to those missed opportunities as proving Darvish was “gettable,” but the Royals let him off the hook.

“We were in a position to do some damage,” Yost said, “especially with the bases loaded and nobody out. We couldn’t convert anything these. Had another chance with second and third. Couldn’t push any runs across.

“We had our opportunities. It just didn’t happen.”

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