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Heyward's big day leads Braves past Royals

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the Braves' first-ever trip to Kansas City, Jason Heyward homered and drove in three runs as Atlanta topped the Royals 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday.

Heyward's seventh-inning solo home run to right field off Tim Collins (2-2) snapped a 3-3 tie and provided the margin of victory.

"Right pitch, bad location," Collins said. "That's the pitch I wanted to throw, but just not in that location."

Heyward hit a two-run double in the fifth to give Atlanta a short-lived 3-1 lead.

"He's having a pretty good month," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's quietly getting it going. The guy hung him a breaking ball. He's got enough juice he can run one out of there."

Kansas City evened the score on Eric Hosmer's two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.

"I was trying to go in with a four-seamer and if it had missed I wish it would have been up but it was letter high," Medlen said. "It was kickball. It was not a good pitch, especially after we just got a lead."

"Medlen was throwing a good game out there and it was a big swing to get us back in the game there," Hosmer said. "It was a battle between the bullpens and they've got a great bullpen and we've got a great bullpen. It just didn't go our way tonight. We had opportunities and that's baseball. That happens."

Billy Butler gave the Royals a first-inning lead with a sharp single to center field, plating Hosmer.

The Braves answered with three runs in the fifth.

Chris Johnson doubled, Andrelton Simmons singled, and Jordan Schafer doubled to bring home Johnson, tying the score at 1. Heyward then delivered a liner down the right field line, driving in two runs.

"It was a slider," Heyward said. "I was looking for a pitch in a zone to hit and I didn't want to miss it."

Braves starter Kris Medlen (5-7) went seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk while fanning five.

"He gave us a great opportunity to win the game and we held on," Gonzalez said. "That's good because he's had some tough luck. It was good that we're able to go back out and get the lead back for him."

"My curveball was (bad)," Medlen said. "Guys can hit an 89 (MPH fastball) when you don't locate. When I made a mistake, they hit it pretty hard, but I think I established the inside part of the plate, and that setup the changeup later in the game."

Jordan Walden blanked the Royals in the eighth. Despite loading the bases, Craig Kimbrel closed out the Royals with a scoreless ninth, pitching around a leadoff walk to Mike Moustakas and a single by David Lough to collect his 22nd save in 25 tries.

"I'd rather it be 1-2-3," Kimbrel said. "Whenever you walk the leadoff batter it makes it harder. You're already focused, but you don't want to throw it down the middle of the plate."

"We had chances, that's for sure," Yost said. "Down a run, especially in the ninth. Moose with the walk, David Lough punched a singled into right-center field that set us up for first and third and gave us a great opportunity, but our inability to put the ball in play for the next two outs definitely put us in a hole from that point."

After Kimbrel intentionally walked Alex Gordon to load the bases, he got Alcides Escobar to hit a weak fly ball on the first pitch to end the game.

"It was some tough duty, first and third with one out and some pretty good hitters coming up, but he got out of it," Gonzalez said. "It's not the way you draw it up."

"It would have been sweet to have him blow a save, but that's why he is one of the best closers in the game," Hosmer said. "He bared down. I got a chance to play with him in Miami this year in the Classic and he is a tough at-bat. For Moose to start off with that at-bat was unreal, that walk, to lay off those pitches, and for (David) Lough to move him over right there, but you're still holding your breath because you know how tough he is and that is exactly why he is one of the better closers."

Royals starter Ervin Santana pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven.

"I felt good the whole game," Santana said. "Just missed a couple of pitches and they made a good adjustment. I threw a couple of sliders down the middle. In the last inning we were just trying to do too much."

"I thought he threw the ball really well," Yost said. "He had the hiccup in the fifth where he gave up four straight hits, but he kept us in the ball game and set Hos up to hit a big two-run homer in the next inning and get us back in the game. Timmy (Collins) hung a two-strike curveball to Heyward, but besides that, I thought we threw the ball well."

NOTES: The Braves are 41-9 in games in which they hit a home run, but 4-23 when they do not. ... The Royals lead the American League in final at-bat wins with 13, including their most recent win when they scored three in the eighth to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-6 on Sunday. The Royals are also tied for the major league lead, with the Texas Rangers, with 24 come-from-behind wins. They overcame multi-run deficits twice on Sunday. ... Atlanta has been shut out a big-league-high 11 times but still leads the National League East by six games. The Braves are just the third team in major league history to occupy first place at the 75-game mark of a season despite being shut out at least 10 times to that point. ... Kansas City has scored more than three runs in an inning only 13 times this year, last doing so June 14 at Tampa Bay. The Royals have scored more than four runs in an inning just five times, last accomplishing the feat June 13, when they put up eight runs in the sixth inning against the Rays.
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