KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning, helping rally the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Hayes hit his 11th homer of the season 424 feet to left-center to erase a one-run deficit. In the ninth inning, Liover Peguero added a three-run homer and Jack Suwinski scored on a Kansas City error.
“It feels great,” Hayes said. “Those are the type of moments you grow up playing the game for — late in the game tying the game up or taking the lead.”
The Pirates won the series opener 5-0 on Monday and will try to win three in a row on Wednesday for only the second time since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh hasn't swept a series since June 27-29 against San Diego.
Luis Ortiz (3-4) allowed just one run on three hits in five innings of relief to get the victory.
“Ortiz was outstanding,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “He was totally in control of his delivery. The big inning was when he got out of the bases-loaded jam. He gave up one run, but he stayed composed and did a nice job.”
Carlos Hernandez (1-9), one of five Kansas City pitchers, gave up the home run to Hayes and took the loss.
The Royals lost a series for the seventh time in eight tries and would need to go 16-12 in their final 28 games to avoid matching the franchise record of 106 losses from 2005.
Kansas City squandered a solid effort by starter Cole Ragans, who allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked one in carrying a shutout through seven innings. With the nine strikeouts, he finished the month of August with 53 Ks, the second-most in Royals history behind Dennis Leonard's 55 in June 1977. He has a 1.73 ERA in seven starts with the Royals since being acquired in mid-July from Texas for Aroldis Chapman.
Shelton gave credit to Ragans when asked what changed after seven fruitless innings on offense.
“Ragans was out of the game, quite honestly,” he said. “That's really good stuff, a left-handed fastball at 99 and a change-up and a cutter. That's a good young pitcher.”
Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro was equally impressed.
“(A) continuation of what he’s been doing," he said. "All his pitches (were) effective, around the zone, in the zone, getting chase when he needed it, swing-and-miss in the zone. I would guess he might say it wasn’t his best command. He lost some balls arm-side, but was able to correct. But, his stuff’s so good that even when he was behind in the count he would get swing and miss.”
The first hit of the game came with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, when Bobby Witt Jr. lined a single into left field. Salvador Perez then lined a single off the glove of Hayes, sending Witt to third with no outs. After striking out MJ Melendez, Ortiz walked Nelson Velazquez, loading the bases. Drew Waters hit a line drive that tipped off Connor Joe's glove at first. Waters was retired, 4-3, but he picked up the game's first RBI.
Ragans allowed his first baserunner on a leadoff walk to Joe in the fifth. He later gave up a two-out single to Peguero, ending his no-hit bid. He struck out Jack Suwinski to end the threat.
Steven Cruz made his MLB debut Tuesday for Kansas City. He was acquired in the offseason in a trade for Michael A Taylor from the Twins. He became the 34th pitcher to appear in a game this season for Kansas City, extending a club record set last year at 32.
The Royals added two runs in the ninth on an RBI single by Freddy Fermin.
Royals: RHP Steven Cruz was selected from Triple-A Omaha. In a corresponding move, LHP Taylor Hearn was optioned to Triple-A Omaha following Monday night's game.
The Pirates and Royals conclude their three-game series Wednesday night. The Pirates will send Andre Jackson (0-1, 4.91 ERA) to the mound. Kansas City has not announced a starter.
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