This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: August 31

The Royals’ three-run sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win over Texas on Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.

The game was tied at 2-2 when Kansas City came to the plate in the sixth. With one out, Joe Lahoud doubled against Rangers starter Doyle Alexander. Darrell Porter singled, and reliever Len Barker took over for Alexander. Barker struck out Amos Otis, but Freddie Patek doubled to drive in both runners. Frank White followed with an RBI double for the crucial extra run that proved to be the difference.

The Rangers responded immediately. Toby Harrah homered off Royals starter Jim Colborn to start the seventh. Doug Bird replaced Colborn, but issued a one-out walk to Dave May and a two-out walk to Mike Hargrove. Bump Wills singled to make the score 5-4 before Bird got a strikeout of Claudell Washington to end the inning.

Bird pitched a perfect eighth but hit Juan Beniquez with a pitch to start the ninth. The Royals caught a huge break when Beniquez tried to steal second and Porter threw him out. Bird retired the next two hitters to earn his ninth save of the season.

The teams traded runs in the second inning. Jim Sundberg started the inning with a single and took second on a groundout. Colborn suddenly battled his control, issuing a walk to Beniquez and then throwing two wild pitches to allow Sundberg to score. Colborn did manage to get a strikeout of May before walking Bert Campaneris, but ended the inning with a pickoff of Campaneris at first.

Al Cowens picked up the Royals’ first hit, a single to start the bottom of the second. Lahoud drew a walk and Porter singled to tie the score. But Alexander retired the next three hitters to escape further damage.

Colborn’s pickoff of Campaneris became a big play when Hargrove singled to start the third. Lahoud bobbled the ball in left field, allowing Hargrove to reach second on the play. Since Beniquez had been on third when the previous inning ended, the pickoff cost Texas at least one run and probably two. Wills bunted Hargrove to third, and Washington hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead.

The Royals pulled even in the fifth. With two outs, George Brett singled, stopping a stretch where Alexander had retired 11 of 12 batters. Hal McRae drew a walk, and Pete LaCock singled to score Brett, although the inning ended when LaCock got caught in a rundown between first and second and was tagged out.

The win lifted the Royals to 76-54. They were in first place in the AL West, and got some help when Minnesota lost while Chicago was idle. That meant the Royals took a 2.5-game lead over the White Sox, three games over the Twins, and 3.5 over the Rangers.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Hideo Nomo (1968), Jason Gilfillan (1976), Ramon Ramirez (1981)

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