NEW YORK -- The Kansas City Royals of old might have run themselves out of a potential big fifth inning Sunday. Instead, the Royals showed the type of cohesion and savvy that has resulted in the best road trip in franchise history -- and could lead to the first pennant race in Kansas City in the wild-card era.
Lorenzo Cain's two-run single capped a frenetic three-run fifth for the Royals, who went on to beat the New York Mets 6-2 in front of 25,658 at Citi Field.
The win capped an 8-1 road trip for Kansas City, the best mark the Royals have ever fashioned in a road trip of nine games or longer. The Royals' only loss was a 4-2, 11-inning loss to the Mets on Friday night.
"When you lose the first game of a series and then come back and win the next two, I'm happy about that," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "I'm happy about the way things are going for is. We've just got to keep rolling."
The Royals have won 11 of 12 overall and are an American League-best 13-3 since the All-Star Break. Kansas City remains 7 1/2 games out in the AL Central and four games behind in the wild-card race because division leader Detroit (12-3 in the second half) and second wild-card team Cleveland (11-5) have been almost as hot.
But simply being in the race in August is big news for the Royals, who have had one winning season since 1994 and whose 28-year playoff drought is the longest in the majors.
"We ended the first half on a bad note (with five straight losses) and we knew we had to pick it up, we had some ground to (make up)," Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "We've done it so far since the break. Just playing good baseball -- starts with pitching and defense and that's what we've been doing. Timely hitting's been there."
So, too, on Sunday were the good baseball instincts of Gordon and Eric Hosmer, who were on second and third when Cain hit a blooper to right with one out in the fifth and the Royals up 2-0.
While Hosmer waited to see if the ball would be caught, Gordon took off on contact because he recognized Mets right fielder Marlon Byrd wouldn't be able to catch the ball.
The ball indeed dropped in front of Byrd and Gordon nearly passed Hosmer rounding third, but he slowed up just enough and the two players crossed the plate in correct order.
"Hos did the right thing, but Gordy got a great read on that and did great baserunning not passing him (and) really gauging the distance right there," Yost said.
"You need to check the outfielders, know where they're at," Gordon said. "Both guys did the right job. When you're struggling to score runs like we kind of have all year, those kind of things help out."
The Royals entered Sunday having scored 423 runs, fourth-fewest in the American League, but are now 30-4 when scoring five runs or more.
The Royals took advantage of the Mets' sloppiness in the fifth, when Byrd lost two fly balls in the sun, pitcher Zack Wheeler uncorked two wild pitches and catcher John Buck was charged with a passed ball.
David Lough was credited with a double when Byrd lost his leadoff fly to right and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson scored on Wheeler's first wild pitch. After Hosmer walked, Gordon hit a fly to deep right, where Byrd dropped the ball on the warning track as Gordon raced to second base.
Mets manager Terry Collins believed the wild fifth inning could serve as a valuable lesson for the rookie Wheeler (4-2) in how to provide a lift to teammates by pitching out of jams that aren't his making.
"I thought it was a time to let him know 'Hey, it wasn't your fault, what happened today,'" Collins said. "But once in a while, we've got to come together and you've got to pick the other guys up."
Mike Moustakas had two hits, including a solo homer in the fourth, while Hosmer also had two hits for the Royals.
Ervin Santana (8-6) picked up the win for the Royals after allowing one run, five hits and three walks while striking out five in six innings.
Eric Young was 2-for-4 with an RBI single for the Mets (49-60) and Buck had an RBI single in the eighth when the Mets stranded two runners against Louis Coleman.
NOTES: Lough left during the fifth inning with right quad tightness. Yost said he'll likely miss the next two games. ... The Royals made series of transactions before the game. All-Star C Salvador Perez was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list and replaced by C Brett Hayes, who was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. Perez took a foul tip off the facemask in the 12th inning on Saturday and spent the night undergoing tests at a hospital. ... RHP Wade Davis was placed on the Family Medical Emergency List. He will be out a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days. The Royals recalled LHP Will Smith from Triple-A Omaha in a corresponding move. ... Mets closer Bobby Parnell remained unavailable because of a stiff neck. ... The Mets are off Monday -- the first of their four off-days of the second half -- before opening a series with the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on Tuesday.