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Ruggiano ends slump, leads Marlins past Royals

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Justin Ruggiano broke out of the worst hitless slump in Miami Marlins history in a big way.

Ruggiano snapped a franchise-record 0-for-42 skid with three singles, drove in a run and scored a run as the Marlins rallied past the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Wednesday.

The Marlins took advantage of an Elliot Johnson error to score two unearned runs in the seventh inning and won for only the fifth time in 57 games when they trailed after six innings.

The Royals, who had won their first seven series after the All-Star break, dropped two of three to the Marlins. The Royals managed just nine hits in losing the final two games.

"Man, it was like taking a monkey off my back," Ruggiano said. "I didn't even know about it until the media told me about it. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. It got to where I wasn't even making solid contact anymore."

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stop of Ruggiano's grounder in the second inning and he just beat the throw to first.

"I was starting to go into rounding first and then I saw he dove and I thought 'oh, no, don't do it,'" Ruggiano said. "It was probably the hardest ball I hit all day."

Koyie Hill, who was called up Friday, led off the seventh with a double, the only Marlins extra-base hit, against Royals left-hander Tim Collins. Christian Yelich wound up on second and Hill on third after his grounder went between Johnson's legs.

"Just your classic squibbler," Johnson said. "I let the ball play me a little bit. I kind of froze on it and wasn't sure what to do. The last hop that got to me, kicked right and I didn't have time to react to it.

"If I attack the ball, then I make the play and it's routine, it's no big deal and we probably get the win. The ball is spinning a thousand miles an hour. I should have gone and gotten it. I didn't and it cost us the game."

Groundouts by Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison scored Yelich and Hill.

"It (error) did change the whole complexion of the inning," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "In Elliot's defense, it was a cue ball shot with a lot of English. It had a lot of spin on it, it hit and then boom, it stayed down on him."

The Marlins tacked on two runs in the ninth. Ruggiano led off with a single. Solano and Morrison, who grew up in Kansas City, drilled run-producing singles to right.

"It was a good day for Justin and a big lift for us," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "The guys rally around guys who are struggling and I think you saw that with the way they were yelling for him. Nobody likes to see a teammate grind like that. He swung the bat well, got some big hits and played a big role for us."

Dan Jennings (2-4), the second of four Marlins pitchers, picked up the win, working a scoreless sixth. Steve Cishek logged his 21st consecutive save and his 26th in 28 chances, although he gave up a double and a walk.

Collins (2-6), who is 0-for-4 in save opportunities, took the loss.

Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner, who is 0-3 in six starts since a July 10 victory over Atlanta, walked a career-high six of the 24 batters he faced in five-plus innings and struck out none.

"He had good movement, but a tough time commanding it," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It didn't feel great, I'm sure, but it was good for him to be able to battle. In the learning curve you're going to have days like that where you have to battle through it and he did."

Turner allowed only two runs (one unearned) to keep the Marlins close.

"I know it can be tough when a pitcher is struggling," Turner said. "The ball was up and moving. They made a lot of plays behind me. At the end of the day, we won."

Royals starter Ervin Santana, who was coming off his worst start of the season when he allowed nine hits and six runs against Boston, held the Marlins to one run and eight hits in six innings.

Eric Hosmer snapped a 0-for-13 skid with an opposite-field double with one out in the first and scored on Salvador Perez's two-out single, putting the Royals up 1-0.

The Marlins tied it in the fourth on three hits and a walk. Ruggiano's two-out ground single up the middle scored Adieny Hechavarria.

The Royals regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth with an unearned run. Getz drew his second of three walks and moved to third when Hechavarria failed to handle Johnson's grounder.

Turner walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases and Getz scored on David Lough's groundout to second base.

NOTES: The Royals obtained IF Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations or a player to be named. He hit .218 with three home runs, 20 RBIs and 12 stolen bases with Toronto. ... Royals manager Ned Yost said he does anticipate putting Mike Moustakas, who has a left calf strain, on the disabled list. Yost said in a "best-case scenario" Moustakas would be able to pinch hit or play the field Saturday or Sunday. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who starts Friday against the San Francisco Giants, has a 1.04 ERA in his past four starts. The Marlins, however, have failed to score a run in Eovaldi's past five starts. Only three pitchers have gone six straight starts without the support of a run since 1974.
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