Laird and Young homer to lead Rangers to 5-3 victory over Royals

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Gerald Laird squared to bunt the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning, but it was a ball. Laird changed tactics on the next pitch, hitting a three-run homer that put the Texas Rangers ahead to stay.

Michael Young also homered and Kevin Millwood struck out nine in seven innings to help the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

The Royals had taken a 3-1 lead in the sixth, scoring two runs on Rangers first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s double error. But the Rangers answered with a fourth-run sixth capped by Laird’s homer.

Nelson Cruz’s RBI single in the sixth chased starter Kyle Davies (1-1) and pulled the Rangers within 3-2.

David Riske relieved with runners on first and second and Laird came to the plate intending to bunt.

After taking the first pitch, Laird saw the Royals infielders on the move to defend what they suspected would be another bunt. Given the option to swing away by manager Ron Washington, Laird ripped a 1-0 fastball into the seats in left for his seventh homer and a 5-3 lead.

“I was supposed to bunt the runners over,” Laird said. “I had the chance to swing if they ran the wheel play. I decided to take a hack. I was 100 percent sure it was going to be a fastball.”

Royals manager Buddy Bell was surprised to see Laird swing away.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy square around and then hit a home run,” Bell said.

Millwood (8-9) gave up three runs—one earned—and four hits in his longest outing since July 13, when he went seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

Millwood changed his position on the rubber in his previous start, setting up on the first-base side. He allowed three runs in six innings of his last start, and was effective again against the Royals.

“I’m getting more used to it each time out,” Millwood said. “It feels good. I’m able to locate better. I was trying to throw everything across my body. This has freed my arm up a lot. It’s making things easier.”

C.J. Wilson got four outs for his fifth save in six chances, stretching his scoreless streak to 15 1-3 innings.

Davies was making his third start since he came to the Royals on July 31 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for reliever Octavio Dotel.

Davies allowed four runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked one in 99-degree heat, the highest temperature for the first pitch of a Rangers’ home game this season.

“It’s frustrating,” Davies said. “I elevated some pitches and they hit them. I thought I pitched pretty good until the sixth. Then things snowballed. The good thing is I’m making progress.”

With the game tied at 1, the Royals had Mark Grudzielanek at second and Billy Butler at first when Ross Gload hit a grounder to Saltalamacchia at first.

Saltalamacchia booted the ball for one error, allowing Grudzielanek to score. Saltalamacchia tracked down the ball in short right field and threw wildly to the plate for his second error on the play, this one allowing Butler to score for a 3-1 lead.

The Royals went in front 1-0 in the first on Butler’s RBI single. Millwood retired the next 12 batters until he walked Jason Smith in the fifth.

Young tied it at 1 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his seventh.

Notes

Texas has won four of its last six. … The Kansas City bullpen carried a 0.51 ERA in its previous 17 2-3 innings before Riske’s blown save. The Royals had converted 15 of their previous 15 save opportunities. … Ian Kinsler’s stolen base in the fifth for the Rangers made him 15-for-15 this season.

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