KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — On a miserably hot day, everything came down to one miserable pitch.
Billy Butler unloaded on a pitch Burke Badenhop wishes he had back, clubbing a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning on Wednesday that sent the Kansas City Royals to a 5-4 victory and three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I got behind him,” said Badenhop, who relieved Matt Moore with one out in the eighth. “I threw a really flat sinker. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. You’re fine if you get beaten by your best. That, obviously, was not my best. I tried to get a slider in on him, and I thought the one almost hit him in the chest. But, he’s a pretty good hitter, and you can’t do that.”
It was the hottest day of the year so far in Kansas City, reaching 100 degrees by the fifth inning.
“It was really, really hot out there,” said Butler. “Guys were starting to get dehydrated. It was not a good day to go extra innings.”
The Rays had tied it 4-4 in the top of the eighth after Carlos Pena reached leading off on an error that left first base umpire Brian Gorman wiping off blood. Pena’s hot grounder glanced off first baseman Hosmer’s glove and struck Gorman on the left side of the face as he was signaling the ball fair.
The veteran ump cleaned some blood off his face but stayed in the game after being attended to by the Royals’ trainer. Then Tim Collins walked Jeff Keppinger and Ben Zobrist launched a two-run triple.
“He had a little cut,” said Yost. “But he’s fine. Gorman’s fine.”
Zobrist was 3 for 4 with three RBIs but made three outs on the bases. He was thrown out twice at home plate trying to score from third on ground balls.
“It’s a tough way to end the road trip,” said Zobrist. “They (Royals) were playing great over there. They did everything. They hit the ball really well, they pitched well, and played good defense. We couldn’t get anything going.”
Badenhop (1-2) recorded only one out after starter Matt Moore labored through 7 1-3 innings, giving up 10 hits and four runs.
“I thought Matt Moore was awful good,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “He gave up a couple of homers and a chopper over the third baseman’s head. He pitched really, really well. He kept his composure and had great stuff. I thought he was outstanding.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said trainers had IVs waiting in the locker room.
“We were going to start losing guys,” Yost said. “We had some guys who were starting to cramp. Eric Hosmer’s elbow was starting to get a little stiff. The umpire was about ready to fall out behind home plate. The heat out there was pretty oppressive. When Billy hit that ball, I was just hoping it was high enough.”
Aaron Crow (1-1), the fifth Royals pitcher, was the winner after getting two outs in the eighth as the Royals recorded their first home sweep of the Rays in 11 years.
“It’s been hot the last few days,” said Maddon. “But I tell you what, you didn’t hear one guy complain. They played right down to the last out. They were great.”
Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar also homered for the Royals, who managed to sweep a team three games immediately after getting swept themselves. After a potentially ruinous 12-game losing streak in April, the youthful Royals have fought back to five games under .500 (34-39).
“It would be nice if we made things easier for ourselves once in a while,” said Jeff Francoeur. “This is the third time now we’ve fought back to get to five games under .500, but then we just take a few steps back. Our goal was to get back to .500 by the All-Star break.”
NOTES: The Royals won’t have another home game for 16 days. They open a 10-day, 11-game trip on Friday in Minnesota and then take four days off for the All-Star break. … The Rays will play 17 of their next 21 at home. … As soon as the last out was recorded on Wednesday, the makeover began for the All-Star game and festivities in Kauffman Stadium. … Moustakas made an outstanding play at third to save a run, stopping Elliot Johnson’s hot smash with two out and throwing him out while Sean Rodriguez ran home from third.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.