ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Salvador Perez got the pitcher and the pitch he wanted in the seventh inning Tuesday night, and he hit a two-run home run that carried the Kansas City Royals to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
With the Royals down 2-1, Perez faced left-hander Xavier Cedeno with one out and Eric Hosmer on first base.
“Yes, I did (expect to face a right-hander). I don’t why he left (Cedeno) in, but I’ll take it,” said Perez, who hit his 16th homer.
Rays manager Kevin Cash brought in right-hander Kevin Jepsen two batters later, but it proved to be too late.
“That’s probably a decision that I’ll lose a little sleep over tonight, for sure,” Cash said.
The Royals won a second straight game for the first time since the end of June, but they are still 10 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
“We’re just coming out here trying to do everything we can do to win each game,” Perez said. “Whatever happens is going to happen, and we need to focus every day, and not worry about what happened yesterday.”
Chris Young (3-8) got the win in relief and Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his third save. The Royals also got two big strikeouts with runners on base from left-hander Matt Strahm in his second major league appearance.
Strahm was called up from Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Sunday after Kansas City placed Wade Davis on the disabled list with a flexor strain.
“With Wade being down, it’s kind of audition time here now,” manager Ned Yost said. “It’s about opportunity, man. Take advantage of it.”
The Rays scored twice in the fifth off starter Yordano Ventura without hitting the ball to the outfield. Logan Forsythe walked and later scored on Kevin Kiermaier’s bunt single. After Brad Miller’s infield single, Desmond Jennings scored Kiermaier with a groundout to shortstop.
Forsythe had three hits for the Rays, who left 11 on base and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
Ventura pitched five innings, giving up two runs, six hits and four walks.
Rays starter Matt Andriese pitched four innings in his first start since June 25, giving up one run on three hits while striking out three. Andriese returned to the rotation following Monday’s trade of Matt Moore to the San Francisco Giants.
Perez has 20 RBIs in his last 20 games and a 14-game hitting streak against Tampa Bay, a team the Royals have beaten 12 times in their last 13 meetings. He hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later for the sixth time in his career and the third time this season.
Tampa Bay slugger Evan Longoria said it was disappointing to see Moore, INF Steve Pearce and OF Brandon Guyer traded in separate deals Monday that netted SS Matt Duffy from San Francisco and five prospects.
“You see three guys like those three guys leave sometimes it’s a little tough to stomach,” Longoria said. “We’ll move forward and hopefully the guys we got in return will be the players that we expect.”
Royals: RHP Luke Hochevar had season-ending surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. The Royals expect him to be recovered by spring training. … LHP Mike Minor, coming back from left shoulder surgery, struck out five and allowed two hits over 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Omaha.
Rays: OF Mikie Mahtook (fractured left hand) went 1 for 3 with a walk in his first rehab game with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays. … Touted shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson has been placed on the disabled list with Triple-A Durham.
Edinson Volquez (8-9) will make his team-leading 23rd start for the Royals on Wednesday night against Jake Odorizzi (5-5), who is working on a steak of 14 2/3 scoreless innings for the Rays.
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