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Salvador Perez 9th-inning grand slam wins it

September 15, 2018 - 9:32 am
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Salvador Perez capped Kansas City's five-run ninth inning with a game-ending grand slam, lifting the Royals to an 8-4 victory over the Twins on Friday.

   Rosell Herrera sparked the winning rally with a one-out double off Trevor Hildenberger (4-4), who took over as Minnesota's closer after Fernando Rodney was traded to Oakland last month. Whit Merrifield followed with an RBI single and advanced to third on Adalberto Mondesi's base hit.

   Manager Paul Molitor then put in Logan Forsythe, giving the Twins five infielders, and Alex Gordon was intentionally walked to load the bases. But Perez thwarted the strategy with a drive to center for his 26th homer.

   "I was sitting on a slider," Perez said. "It surprised me a lot when he threw me a fastball first pitch right down the middle, but after that I was just trying to do my best to put the ball in play and see what happens."

   The Twins' loss lowered Cleveland's magic number for clinching the AL Central title to one.

   "We know Perez is a Twins killer and all those kind of things, but it would have been a little bit trickier to try to find a way to do that with Gordon," Molitor said. "So, we went ahead and gave it a shot and he did a good job of fouling off some tough pitches and working it to 3-2, and we had to throw a strike."

   It was Perez's second career game-ending homer and the sixth game-ending slam in Royals history. Perez said he was so focused on trying to hit the ball in the air he didn't realize there were five infielders until the third pitch.

   Last-place Kansas City improved to 12-2 in its last 14 home games after going 11-35 at Kauffman Stadium before the All-Star break.

   Perez also had an RBI single in the first inning and Mondesi connected for his eighth homer in the seventh, a 437-foot drive into the right-field fountains. Jason Hammel (3-13) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

   Robbie Grossman and Willians Astudillo each had three hits for Minnesota, which also dropped the opener of the four-game set on Thursday.

   Joe Mauer had a run-scoring double in the Twins' three-run fifth, and Astudillo made it 4-2 when he singled in Grossman in the seventh.

   But Mondesi went deep in the bottom half of the inning and the Royals nearly tied it in the eighth. Ryan O'Hearn tried to score from first on Jorge Bonifacio's two-out double, but Astudillo made a diving tag to get him at the plate.

   Minnesota wasted a solid start by Jose Berrios, who struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball.

   Kansas City right-hander Jorge Lopez was charged with three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He departed with a left rib contusion after a fourth-inning collision with third baseman Hunter Dozier.

   Mauer's double was his 598th extra-base hit, breaking a tie with Tony Oliva for fourth place on the Twins' career list. He trails only Harmon Killebrew (728), Kirby Puckett (687) and Kent Hrbek (623).

   Twins catcher Mitch Garver (head) remained sidelined for a second straight game while he awaits clearance from the training staff after taking a foul ball off the facemask, but he did hit in the cage before Friday's game. "I think that's another step forward today," Molitor said.

   Third baseman Miguel Sano (lower left leg) was expected to work in the batting cage for a second consecutive day, but he remains out indefinitely.

    Royals righthander Ian Kennedy (1-8, 4.92 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the disabled list and second straight start against the Twins, who send righthander Chase De Jong (0-0, 0.00) to the mound for his second appearance since a July 30 trade with the Seattle Mariners.