Royals rally in the eighth to beat Rangers 6-2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Ryan Braun needed 25 appearances before he collected his first major league victory, but it was worth the wait.
Braun pitched 2 2-3 innings of two-hit shutout relief and Mark Teahen drove in the tiebreaking run on an eighth-inning fielder’s choice as the Kansas City Royals beat Texas 6-2 Thursday night to snap the Rangers’ three-game winning streak.
John Buck added a three-run double in the four-run eighth.
“It took a little longer than I was hoping, but luckily, things happened,” Braun said. “I was able mainly to just get ahead of the hitters a lot quicker than some other outings this year. I was able to get them to swing at the first pitch and get some early outs.”
Braun worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, retiring Marlon Byrd on a fly ball to end the threat. He allowed only two singles during a critical part of the game and was the pitcher of record when the Royals broke through in the eighth.
“Braun was outstanding,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “Our pitching’s has really been pretty doggone good. (Braun) is a kid with a good arm. We need to bring him in situations like this, rather than mop-up situations, so we can see what he’s got. Really, he was about as good as he could get tonight. We needed it too.”
With the game tied at 2, the Royals got themselves in position for Braun’s victory when they put runners on first and third in the eighth against reliever Willie Eyre on consecutive singles by Mark Grudzielanek and Billy Butler.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said Saltalamacchia was in the proper position despite being an inexperienced major league catcher.
“He was trying to make sure he got the ball and Grudzielanek got by him,” Washington said. “Grudzielanek made the play by being aggressive. We were inches away from getting out of the inning.”
Kansas City went on to load the bases in the eighth and Buck cleared them with his double to right-center, giving the Royals a 6-2 advantage.
Buck had been in a 2-for-16 slump before the double.
“We made some adjustments because teams are just junk-balling me to death,” Buck said.
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals and Grudzielanek had three hits for Kansas City.
Eyre (4-6) gave up four runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
“We had to get someone else to step up,” Washington said. “Willie got some ground balls that found holes and then left one up to Buck.”
Rangers spot starter John Rheinecker pitched into the eighth inning. He was the fill-in for scheduled starter Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to a stress fracture in his right shoulder.
Rheinecker gave up two runs and six hits, struck out two and walked three in 7 1-3 innings.
Texas went ahead 2-1 in the fifth when Saltalamacchia and David Murphy led off with singles to put runners on first and third. Ian Kinsler drove in Saltalamacchia with a sharp single off reliever John Bale.
Kansas City drew even in the seventh on Gordon’s solo homer, his 11th of the season.
Nunez left the game in the fourth inning with a torn callous on his right thumb.
With the game tied at 1, Nunez gave up a leadoff infield single to Marlon Byrd that struck the back of Nunez’s right knee.
He then threw two balls to Wilkerson before Bell and team trainer Nick Swartz went to the mound to check on the converted reliever, who was making his fourth major league start.
The problem was with Nunez’s thumb, not his leg, and he was replaced by Bale.
Heavy rain started falling in the top of the fourth with the game tied at 1. Play was suspended before the Rangers could come to bat in the bottom of the fourth, but the shower was brief and the game resumed after a 22-minute delay. … Catalanotto led off the game with a homer for the seventh time in his career and second time this season. …Wilkerson struck out four times against four different pitchers.