The Kansas City Royals even their weekend series with Tampa Bay, edging the Devil Rays 8-7 in a wild and walk-filled contest Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning as John Buck doubled, was sacrificed to second by Joey Gathright, then came home on a sacrifice fly by Tony Pena.
Tampa Bay tied the game and went ahead by a pair of runs in the 4th inning as Kansas City starter Gil Meche got into trouble. Greg Norton walked with the bases loaded and Delmon Young stroked a single to left field to drive in the go ahead run. Jonny Gomes then lofted a sacrifice fly to center to drive in the Devil Rays’ third run.
The Royals climbed to within one in the 4th when Esteban German tripled and then scored on an errant pickoff attempt.
The Devil Rays got back that run and one more in the 5th. Akinori Iwamura tripled and came home on Carlos Pena’s 20th home run of the year – a 415 foot shot to right field.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Royals showed they could play long ball, too, as Billy Butler belted his 3rd homer of the year – a 418 foot blast to center field to narrow the score to 5-3. Kansas City picked up a second run in the inning when Joey Gathright singled, took second on an attempted steal that went as an error to shortstop Brendan Harris, then scored on a David DeJesus base hit.
The Devil Rays added a run in the 6th when Jonny Gomes hit his 7th home run of the season. It traveled 361 feet over the left field fence.
Then came the Kansas City 8th inning when Tampa Bay pitchers had trouble finding the plate and gave up five straight walks. Reliever Jay Witasick walked the three batters he faced. Casey Fossum then came in and walked the two batters he faced. With the score tied at 6, Shawn Camp, who relieved Fossum, surrendered a single to Billy Butler, who drove in a run that put the Royals on top 7-6.
The wild night at Kauffman wasn’t over yet. The Devil Rays’ Carl Crawford was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call, stole second, and scored on a Brendan Harris single. Royals 7, Rays 7.
That set the stage for the bottom of the 9th. Tony Pena, who had singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a David DeJesus sacrifice, went to third on a fielder’s choice, then scored the game winning run on Mark Grudzielanek’s walk off single with two men out.
Octavio Dotel (2-1) pitched 1 inning, giving up 1 unearned run, to pick up the win. Shawn Camp (0-3) gave up the 1 run in the 9th to take the loss.
The series wraps up Sunday at the K with Jorge De La Rosa (6-9) going to the mound for the Royals against the Devil Rays’ Scott Kazmir (5-5).