'Pen, defense keep KC from sweep
Rangers rally in eighth, win via walk-off vs. Farnsworth
ARLINGTON -- The Royals didn't get Sunday's game to closer Joakim Soria, thanks to shoddy defense and one poor pitch by Kyle Farnsworth.
At least that's the way manager Trey Hillman saw it after Rangers third baseman Michael Young drilled a 1-0 pitch from Farnsworth over the left-center fence for a walk-off home run, capping a disastrous finish for Kansas City in a 6-5 loss to Texas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Royals had a chance to sweep the Rangers for the first time in Texas since 2003, taking a two-run lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Instead, they left with a self-inflicted loss and tied with Detroit and the Chicago White Sox at 7-5 for the American League Central lead.
"We're never in that situation if we make a couple of plays," Hillman said. "It was the defense more than the pitching."
The Royals gave up the lead in the bottom of the eighth with the well-rested closer Soria remaining in the bullpen.
Two former Rangers, Ron Mahay and Jamey Wright, gave up the runs, but didn't get much help from their defense. Texas designated hitter Andruw Jones started the inning against Mahay with a deep fly ball to left that David DeJesus got into his glove, but the ball caromed away for a double.
Mike Jacobs then booted a ground ball at first base, putting runners at first and third. That brought in Wright instead of Soria, who hadn't pitched since Monday.
"I didn't want to get Soria up and down for more than one inning," Hillman said.
Wright got Nelson Cruz to ground out to second, scoring Jones to make it 5-4. The bigger problem, in what Hillman saw as the play of the inning, is that second baseman Alberto Callaspo didn't tag Hank Blalock as he ran to second, instead getting Cruz at first but putting the tying run in scoring position.
That moment haunted the Royals. With Wright still in, Rangers pinch-hitter Chris Davis hit a sharp ground ball off the glove of a diving Callaspo, and the ball trickled a few feet away from the Royals' second baseman. Blalock just beat the throw at the place to tie the game.
After Rangers closer Frankie Francisco mowed down the Royals in order in the top of the ninth, Hillman went with Farnsworth instead of Soria -- the general practice is to save your closer for extra innings on the road.
"I would have brought him in at home," Hillman said.
Instead, it was Farnsworth, who had a great Spring Training, but came into Sunday with a 16.20 ERA after giving up three runs to Cleveland on Wednesday.
Farnsworth fell behind, 1-0, and then threw a fastball down the middle to Young, who produced the game-winner.
"I've definitely been bad these first two weeks," Farnsworth said. "I have to keep battling."
The Royals had a decent start from Kyle Davies, who allowed just three hits in six innings, one of those a solo home run by Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Davies had an erratic first inning. He allowed only one hit, but four walks in the inning helped the Rangers take a 2-0 lead. Davies was good enough to get Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden to take strike three with the bases loaded.
"I came out throwing strikes, pounding the fastball," Davies said. "Maybe I should have gone to something else earlier. I was happy I settled down and made it through six."
Davies' ability to avoid the big inning in the first allowed his offense to get the Royals back in the game. They tied it on the second on Jacobs' two-run home run. After both teams scored a run in the third inning, John Buck supplied a clutch RBI single in the fourth inning after a baserunning mistake by Jacobs kept the Royals from having a big inning.
DeJesus, who was hitless in the series entering Sunday, then gave the Royals an insurance run with a home run for a 5-3 lead, a lead that looked to have the Royals set up for the sweep.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.