The Royals took advantage of four errors to outlast the Blue Jays, 9-8, on Friday night at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
Toronto’s first contribution to the Royals’ cause came in the second. With one out, Darrell Porter singled off Blue Jays starter Dave Lemanczyk. With two outs, Cookie Rojas added a single. Freddie Patek singled to center, scoring Porter, and Rojas was able to score as well when center fielder Bob Bailor threw the ball away. Patek made it to third on the play, but was stranded there. Still, the Royals had a 2-0 lead.
Hassler escaped that inning with a double play but could not make it out of the third. Steve Staggs started that inning with a double and stopped at third on Bailor’s single. A walk to Otto Velez loaded the bases. Doug Ault hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Staggs, while Bailor advanced to third. A wild pitch let Bailor score. With two outs, Roy Howell singled to drive in Velez, at which point Marty Pattin took over for Hassler and got the third out, ending the inning with Toronto ahead, 4-2.
But Toronto’s defense quickly undid their big inning on offense. Porter led off the fourth with a single. Amos Otis hit a grounder that could have been a double play, but Staggs failed to catch the ball at second base. Porter raced to third, with Otis taking second on the play. Rojas grounded out, with Porter scoring. Patek hit a grounder to third; Rader fielded it cleanly and threw home, but Ashby dropped the ball, Otis was safe, and the game was tied at 4-4.
The Royals added two runs in the fifth, once again with assistance from the home team. Hal McRae led off with a triple and Al Cowens drew a walk. With one out, Porter grounded out, bringing in McRae for the lead. Otis hit a grounder that Staggs flubbed, with Cowens scoring from second for a 6-4 lead.
But Ault homered off Pattin with one out in the fifth. Rader then walked, stole second, and reached third on a groundout. Ashby singled to tie the game at 6-6.
But the Royals took the lead for good in the seventh. Patek tripled to start the rally. With one out, Tom Poquette singled to score Patek. McRae followed with his 16th home run of the season, and Kansas City had a 9-6 lead.
Pattin retired the first two hitters in the seventh, but Rader singled to keep the inning alive. Howell and Ashby drew walks to load the bases, and Dave McKay singled to drive in two runs. Steve Mingori was summoned from the bullpen and he ended the inning with the Royals still in front by getting a fly ball.
Doug Bird took over for Mingori to start the eighth and retired six straight batters to earn his third save of the season.
With the win, the Royals improved to 63-48. They remained in fourth place in the AL West, although they were just two games out of first. Minnesota won and Chicago lost to Texas, so the Twins moved into first place by a half-game, while the Rangers were just 1.5 games out of first.
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