ARLINGTON, Texas — Even the rare victories for the Royals are now getting painful.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
David Lough was hit by a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th inning Saturday afternoon, which provided the Royals with the go-ahead run in a 4-1 victory over Texas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Lough left the game after being hit in the right wrist on a 2-1 pitch from reliever Robbie Ross. That came after the Royals threatened to squander a bases-loaded threat with no outs.
“It was bad,” Lough said. “I couldn’t move my fingers or anything until 20 minutes later when I’m in here (the clubhouse). When I walked over to get an X-ray, my feeling started coming back to my fingers.”
The X-rays revealed nothing more than a deep bruise, and Lough had already regained 80 percent of his hand strength within 30 minutes of the ed of the game.
“That’s a tough way to get a run in,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said, “but we won both situations. D-Lo is all right, and we got the run out of it.”
It got easier when cow-milking champ George Kottaras followed with a two-run double. That provided Greg Holland with a three-run cushion in closing the victory for his ninth save.
“Huge by George,” Hosmer said. “That put the nail in the coffin right there.”
Aaron Crow, 1-1, got the victory after escaping a jam in the ninth.
The Royals won for just the sixth time in 26 games despite a still sputtering attack that went one-for-11 (Kottaras’ double) with runners in scoring position.
Alcides Escobar started the winning rally with a leadoff single into center against Ross, who had allowed just one run in 24 ⅓ previous innings over 24 appearances.
Hosmer then beat an overshifted infield with a single through the left side. Escobar took third easily by running on weak-armed David Murphy, and Hosmer went to second on the throw to third.
“When I saw that ball get through the infield,” Escobar said, “I said, ‘I’m going to third. I don’t care about anything else. I’m going to third.’”
An intentional walk to Billy Butler loaded the bases for Mike Moustakas, who struck out on a weak swing after asking for time and not having it granted by umpire Todd Tichenor.
Lorenzo Cain struck out on a 1-2 fastball at eye level, which permitted the Rangers to put their infield back to normal depth.
Ross, 2-1, hit Lough on the right wrist, which forced in a run.
“It was a fastball,” Lough said. “He tried to come in, and it just rode in on me. I think it’s just a bone contusion. I’m more glad we got the win than anything.”
It helped when Kottaras then delivered the Royals’ only extra-base hit of the game — a two-run double over the head of right fielder Nelson Cruz. It was just the second hit for Kottaras in his last 17 at-bats.
“I’m just trying to hit it hard somewhere,” he said. “I’ve not been doing as well as I want to lately, but it’s a roller-coaster ride. You go up and down.”
Kottaras might have started his upswing prior to the game when he won a cow-milking contest, which was part of the Rangers’ Farm and Ranch Day promotion. The losing Texas participant was … Ross.
The Royals dodged a bullet in the ninth inning after Mitch Moreland drew a two-out walk. Crow induced a high pop from A.J. Pierzynski into short left-center field — and things got interesting.
Three players converged. Alex Gordon from left, Cain from center and Escobar retreating from shortstop. Escobar had the best chance to catch it, but the ball dropped for a double.
Gordon made a strong throw to the plate that forced Moreland to hold third.
“I got really close,” Escobar said. “I should have caught it but, at the last moment, I heard the other guys coming and got a little confused. I jumped at it, and I didn’t have to. If I keep running, I catch it easily.”
Crow ended the inning by retiring Jurickson Profar on a foul pop to Kottaras, which capped a solid bounce-back performance after blowing a two-run lead Wednesday in the eighth inning at St. Louis.
“He’s a young guy who is probably trying real hard to come through,” Crow said. “I wanted to use that aggressiveness against him. Fortunately, I got ahead with a couple of sliders, and got him to chase a fastball.”
The early innings featured a pitcher’s duel between Royals veteran James Shields and Texas rookie Nick Tepesch, a Blue Springs native who attended Missouri.
Both permitted just one run — Shields over seven innings; Tepesch over 6⅓ innings. Both got no-decisions.
“We got a good win,” Shields said. “We fought hard, and the other pitcher on the other side, he was pretty good. He was mixing up his pitches, and I decided to do my job and hang with him.”
Shields’ day started with a leadoff drive back to the mound by Elvis Andrus. Shields recovered in time to retrieve the ball and throw out Andrus at first.
“It caught me in my arm and my hip,” he said. “It kind of went double-whammy right there. It hit pretty solid but, sometimes, adrenaline takes over.”
Winning can be painful.