The Royals belted three home runs against longtime nemesis Bert Blyleven, leading to a 6-4 win over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Arlington Stadium.
Blyleven entered the game with an 18-11 lifetime record against the Royals. But he was making his first start since June 22 after suffering a groin injury. Kansas City perhaps took advantage of some rust. Frank White started the scoring with a solo home run in the third, his second of the year.
Texas responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. Royals starter Doug Bird was helped out by two Rangers being thrown out on the bases in the second inning, erasing a pair of hits, but got no such help in the third. Bump Wills started the inning with a triple and scored on a one-out triple by Bert Campaneris. Claudell Washington singled to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
But the Royals recaptured the lead for good in the fourth. With one out, John Mayberry drew a walk. Al Cowens followed with his 12th homer of the season for a 3-2 lead.
Then the Royals added on in the fifth. Freddie Patek led off with a single and took second on White’s bunt. Tom Poquette singled to score Patek, and Hal McRae slammed his 10th home run of the season, pushing the Kansas City lead to 6-2.
On the verge of qualifying for the win, Bird ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Jim Sundberg doubled. Campaneris hit a grounder to Cookie Rojas at third, but Rojas made a bad throw to first. The Royals caught a break when Mayberry fired back across the diamond and got Sundberg sliding into third for the second out. Washington laced an RBI double to left, then took third when McRae booted the ball. Reliever Larry Gura took over, walking Mike Hargrove before getting Willie Horton to ground out and end the threat with the Royals still ahead, 6-3.
Texas pulled closer in the seventh. With one out, Washington reached on an infield single, then took second on a ground ball. Horton got the better of Gura this time, hitting an RBI single to make the score 6-4. But Gura got out of the inning, and Mark Littell notched his 11th save with two scoreless innings.
With the win, the Royals finished their 12-game road trip with a 9-3 mark. That raised their record to 42-36, although they remained in third place in the AL West and four games behind first-place Chicago.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthday: Doug Bochtler (1970)