Royals rally to edge Rays in wild one

Cody Friesen
Associated Press
Royals catcher Salvador Perez celebrates after hitting a single to drive in the winning run in the bottom, of the ninth inning of Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay. The Royals from an early 4-0 deficit to claim a 9-8 win on Perez's second walk-off hit in four days.

Salvador Perez knows how to send the Kansas City Royals into a celebration lately.

Perez hit a game-ending RBI single, and the Kansas City Royals avoided a sweep by topping the Tampa Bay Rays 9-8 on Wednesday night.

It was the torrid Perez’s second walk-off hit in four days and the sixth of his career.

Perez hit a game-ending homer to give Kansas City a 3-2 victory over Toronto in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday. The veteran catcher also slugged a two-run shot in the seventh inning of the Royals' 2-0 win against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

"I just tried to do my job," Perez, who had two hits, said of his game-winning hit off Tampa Bay closer Diego Castillo. "He is a great closer and has been good so just try to see something up and hit it hard. He left a slider up and I got it pretty good."

Royals catcher Salvador Perez, top center, is mobbed by teammates Jarrod Dyson, Hanser Alberto and Andrew Benintendi after hitting a walk-off RBI single to lift Kansas City to a come-from-behind 9-8 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler and Carlos Santana homered for Kansas City, which trailed 6-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning and 4-0 after the first inning. Scott Barlow (1-0) allowed Joey Wendle's tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth, but got the win when the Royals rallied.

Michael A. Taylor sparked Kansas City’s game-ending rally with a leadoff single in the ninth. Jarrod Dyson came in to run, swiped second and advanced to third on Hanser Alberto's sacrifice bunt against Castillo (0-1).

Dyson then slid home safely on Nicky Lopez's safety squeeze, tying it at 8. After Lopez advanced on a groundout, Santana was intentionally walked before Perez lined a 2-1 pitch up the third-base line for the winning hit, similar to his game-winning hit in a 9-8 win over Oakland in the 2014 AL Wild Card playoff. 

Royals pinch runner Jarrod Dyson slides past Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino to score the tying run on a sacrifice bunt by Nicky Lopez in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won it 9-8 later in the inning on a Salvador Perez walk-off RBI single.

"Dyson has just been huge for this team in so many ways," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "Getting him to third by Hanser and then Nicky doing his job. Once again, it's the Salvy show."

The Royals have won 54 straight when leading after seven innings, the longest active streak in baseball. 

Wendle had two hits and three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which had won five in a row. Brandon Lowe hit a two-run homer during the Rays' four-run first inning against Jakob Junis. 

"I've seen some really good clubs check out after being down four in the first," said Matheny, whose team is 2-0 after getting down 4-0 in the first inning this season. "I just think our DNA in this clubhouse is belief. It was a team effort if I've ever seen one." 

Tampa Bay right-hander Michael Wacha permitted three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He competed well and gave us a chance. The home-run ball got him." 

Trailing 5-3, the Royals appeared to be snakebitten in the sixth. Santana’s long drive was caught at the wall in deep right by former Royal Brett Phillips for one out. Perez hit what appeared he thought was a home run to right, but the ball caromed off the top edge of the wall and Perez was thrown out between first and second base in the middle of what he thought was a home run trot.

Soler then narrowly missed his second home run to left and settled for a double, but the Rays got the final out to maintain the two-run lead.

Austin Meadows answered in the top of the seventh with an RBI double to extend the Rays’ lead to 6-3.

But the Royals responded with four runs in the bottom half of the seventh. Alberto hit a two-run triple, and Santana connected for a two-run drive with two out.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Jesse Hahn (right shoulder impingement syndrome) is eligible to return from the 10-day injured list Thursday.

UP NEXT

Royals: Begin a nine-game road trip Friday in Detroit. Mike Minor (1-1, 5.17 ERA) pitches for Kansas City.

Rays: Open a 10-game homestand on Friday with a matchup with Toronto, with Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 0.73 ERA) on the mound for Tampa Bay.