KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Michael Massey’s single with two outs in the ninth scored MJ Melendez to cap a late rally that lifted the Kansas City Royals to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
The Royals hit homers in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game, then pulled it out in the ninth to avoid a sweep.
Melendez reached with one out on an error by first baseman Dominic Smith and scored when Massey lined a single into right off Chad Kuhl (0-3) that fell in front of Lane Thomas.
“I was trying to be selectively aggressive,” Massey said. “I was just making sure I was staying in the spot I was looking and didn’t help the pitcher out. I thought the outfielder was going to get it, but then luckily it had some top spin and dove on him. Luckily it fell in there for us.”
Washington’s Mackenzie Gore struck out a career-high 11 over seven innings and allowed one earned run on three hits and one walk. He gave up a double to the leadoff batter, then didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning.
“It was good,” Gore said. “We did a lot of good things today and look, we just won the series. It’s a tough loss, but we just have to keep taking it one day at a time. We put some guys away today and the last few outings I haven’t done that so that was a lot of fun.”
But Melendez homered off him in the seventh, and Edward Olivares connected for a 452-foot shot off Kuhl in the eighth. Olivares’ tying drive caromed off the scoreboard in left at Kauffman Stadium, and smoke was seen coming from the area where the ball landed.
The Nationals got on the board first with an RBI double by Ildemaro Vargas that bounced off the top of the left field wall to score Smith in the fourth inning. Vargas scored on the next at-bat when Michael Chavis hit a bloop single to center field to give Washington a 2-0 lead.
“We didn’t have our late-inning guys available,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “That last play there is a do-or-die play and you can’t let that ball bounce in front of you like that. You’ve got to try up and catch that and if it gets by you, it gets by you and the game is over anyway.”
In his season debut, Daniel Lynch went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
“That was the first real game that I have seen him pitch. I thought he had good intent,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He attacked hitters, his breaking ball looked good and he threw some good changeups. More so than anything he felt really good. He was throwing the ball really well.”
Scott Barlow (2-3) pitched a scoreless ninth inning and got the win.
The Royals reinstated LHP Daniel Lynch and placed LHP Josh Taylor (left shoulder impingement syndrome) on the 15-day Injured List.
The Nationals send RHP Trevor Williams to the mound on the road against the Dodgers on Monday. The Royals travel to St. Louis, but haven’t announced a starter.
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