Rangers lose their way, ball in 9th against KC

Rangers lose their way, ball in 9th against KC

KANSAS CITY -- Lorenzo Cain's fly ball into the sun was misplayed by Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth, giving the Royals a 4-3 walk-off win in the series finale on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.

With two out and the bases loaded, Cain hit a fly ball off Jason Grilli, who took his second walk-off loss this season, both against the Royals. The ball deflected off Choo's glove, and Alex Gordon scored from third as the Royals snapped a 12-game skid against the Rangers dating to July 22, 2016. Cain was credited with an RBI single.

"I noticed [Grilli] was kind of wild early on, so I was trying to be patient there," Cain said. "My goal was get a hit so we all could go home."

Alcides Escobar opened the ninth inning with a single and Gordon walked. Escobar was forced out at third on a grounder by Salvador Perez, but Grilli plunked Whit Merrifield to load the bases. After Jorge Bonifacio struck out, Gordon scored on Cain's fly ball.

With the win, the Royals avoided a second consecutive sweep and snapped their five-game losing streak, their second-longest of the season.

Cain thanks sun for the win

"To finally catch a break and win a ballgame, especially after we've been scuffling here a little bit, that was huge for us," manager Ned Yost said.

Right-hander Yu Darvish allowed three runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings, but the Rangers have now lost nine of his last 10 starts.

"Of course, it's always better to get a win, and today could have been a sweep," Darvish said. "But we won the first two games so we won the series. That's what we need to focus on from here on out."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Costly wild pitch: The game's first run scored on Yu Darvish's wild pitch in the first inning as Merrifield raced home from third. Merrifield hit a leadoff single then advanced to third on a single by Bonifacio. Midway through Cain's at-bat, one of Darvish's pitches rolled to the backstop, and Merrifield scored easily.

Royals capitalize on wild pitch

Mazara atones for error: Nomar Mazara's seventh-inning fumble with two out in the seventh allowed Drew Butera to score from first on Merrifield's double. That gave the Royals a 3-2 lead, but Mazara made up for that after Elvis Andrus doubled with two out in the top of the eighth. Mazara, who had just four hits in his previous 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position, lined a single up the middle to bring home Andrus with the tying run.

"He came through for us there just like he has so many times in those situations this season," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.

QUOTABLE
"When you go up against the sun, the sun wins most of the time." -- Merrifield

MOUND PROBLEMS
Grilli didn't like the condition of the mound when he came in to pitch the ninth inning. Grilli said there was a hole in the mound and it hardened in the heat. Grilli felt his left Achilles heel turn as he warmed up and asked home-plate umpire Paul Emmel to have it fixed. Grilli ruptured that same tendon in 2015 in Colorado while pitching for the Braves.

"I'm not asking for any favors," Grilli said. "I'm 40 and I still want to pitch. The umpire said, 'I was there in Colorado when you ruptured your Achilles, I don't blame you.' I hit a ridge. I just wanted them to fill in the hole just like they rake the infield."

WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner will start the opener of a four-game series against the Orioles at 6:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Camden Yards. This is the Rangers' first meeting with the O''s this year and Cashner will be facing them for the first time since 2013.

Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas (12-3, 2.62 ERA) will get the ball on Monday at 7:15 p.m. CT for the series opener against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Vargas allowed a season-high three home runs and matched a season-high six runs allowed in his last start 11 days ago.

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Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City and covered the Royals on Sunday.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.