Three home runs, the last one an inside-the-park variety, doomed the Royals in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers on a Saturday afternoon at County Stadium in Milwaukee.
The first blast came two batters into the bottom of the first inning, as Don Money took Royals starter Renie Martin deep. Martin responded with two strikeouts to end the inning.
Then the Royals jumped on top with some help from the Milwaukee defense. With one out in the second, John Wathan singled off Brewers starter Bill Travers. With two outs, Frank White hit a grounder to Money at third, where it was booted and bounced away far enough for Wathan to take third and White to reach second. Willie Wilson hit a grounder to second baseman Jim Gantner, who fumbled it and then made a bad throw to first for two errors and two Royals runs.
The Kansas City lead didn’t last long, though. Ben Oglivie led off the bottom of the second with a home run. Sixto Lezcano and Dick Davis followed with singles. Gantner bunted the runners up 90 feet and Lezcano scored on Charlie Moore’s groundout. Robin Yount then hit a drive to deep right field that hit the top of the wall and bounced away from Wathan towards center field. Yount circled the bases and scored standing up as the Brewers went ahead by three runs.
The home run was the third inside-the-park one of Yount’s career, and all three had come against Kansas City. He would hit three more in his career, and fittingly the last one also came against the Royals.
From there, the game turned into a pitchers’ duel between Travers and Royals reliever Rawly Eastwick, who took over for Martin to start the third inning. Travers did allow a one-out triple to Wathan in the fourth and a leadoff triple to Wilson in the fifth, but the Royals could not bring either man home. The Wilson one was particularly frustrating, as U L Washington and Hal McRae followed with strikeouts. Travers ultimately allowed seven hits in 8 ⅔ innings, with three walks and five strikeouts.
Eastwick held Milwaukee to four hits over 4 ⅓ innings before Gary Christenson took over and pitched the final 1 ⅔ innings. The Royals got two men on in the ninth on an error and Washington single, but Bill Castro struck out McRae to end the game and notch his third save.
Despite the loss, the Royals maintained a 6.5-game lead over Chicago in the AL West. Kansas City had a 36-22 mark.
George Brett watch: Still out of the lineup with an ankle injury. Season stats: .337/.407/.609
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL198006140.shtml
Today’s birthday: Jerry Spradlin (1967)