Royals can't catch a break in final frame, drop heartbreaker to Dodgers

Royals come within inches of tying Wednesday night's game against the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth, only to fall 5-4 in heartbreaking fashion.

The Dodgers scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when A.J. Ellis was plunked with the bases loaded. 

Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Oh, my.

If you want to talk about unfortunate, then start with the Royals on Wednesday night.  

With the tying run on second and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Lorenzo Cain rifled a shot headed for the right-field corner and extra bases. It looked like the Royals had tied the score, 5-5, with the winning run possibly on second or maybe even third because of Cain's speed.

Instead, Dodgers first baseman Scott Van Slyke used all of his 6-foot-5 frame and wingspan to reach up and snare the liner -- snow-cone style -- for the out. And Van Slyke then turned and threw to second to double up Pedro Ciriaco, who had assumed the ball was already in the corner and wandered off the bag.

Double play.

"Tough play for Ciriaco," manager Ned Yost said. "Normally, you have to freeze on line drives, but that was just bang-bang."

And just like that, the Royals lost another tense heartbreaker on this homestand, 5-4. Make that six of seven the Royals have lost, with four of the losses coming by one run and the other two by two runs.

"It's just the stretches that you go through," Cain said. "I thought my ball was past him into the corner. A week ago, that's a hit.

"But I keep saying this -- it's a long season. We'll be back."

The Royals again did not benefit from a strong start from James Shields, whose recent slide continued, though Yost thought he had better command Wednesday.

Shields went seven innings and gave up four runs and seven hits.

"I thought it was better," Shields said. "That's a good-hitting ballclub over there."

3 UP

-- Have a day, Dyson. Jarrod Dyson not only made two terrific running catches to rob the Dodgers' Andre Ethier, he also smacked a home run over the bullpen in right field. That was Dyson's first homer since June 23, 2013, spanning 277 at-bats. Dyson, by the way, may be short, but he is strong and is capable of drilling a long ball now and then.

-- LoCain making a case. Cain has been at the leadoff spot for only a few days, but he is making his case to claim the job. He smoked a home run to lead off the Royals' first inning, their first leadoff homer in a game this year and the first since Alex Gordon did it last Sept. 11. It was the 87th leadoff homer in Royals history.

"I like it," Cain said. "You get up there right away and try to make something happen."

-- Eric Hosmer with the glove. Hoz did take two walks -- the first time he has accepted a walk since Friday the 13th. He also made the defensive play of the game in the fifth inning. With a runner on second, Hosmer made a diving stop on a grounder from Adrian Gonzalez headed down the right-field line for a double. Hoz instead snared it and tossed to Shields for the second out, with the runner advancing to third. Shields then got the next hitter, and the Royals stayed close at 4-2.

3 DOWN

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-- A Wade Davis slip. We've almost taken for granted how perfect Davis has been as the eighth-inning guy. He hadn't been touched for a run since April 23, after all, spanning 20 appearances. But Davis finally gave one up after allowing two singles and a walk that loaded the bases. Davis then got ahead of weak-hitting A.J. Ellis 0-2, but couldn't put him away. On a 1-2 pitch, Davis tried a breaking ball inside and hit Ellis, forcing in the eventual winning run.

"I tried to be too perfect with it," Davis said. "It's a tough thing. We'll come back."

-- Bad night for Alex. Alex Gordon began carrying the Royals' offense over a month ago, but he looks to be slipping back into a mini-slump. Gordon was behind the fastball and waving at breaking balls out of the zone, a sure sign he isn't dialed in at the moment. Gordon went 0 for 4 and struck out three times.

-- Rough one for Esky, too. Shortstop Alcides Escobar is having a career year, but he probably will want to forget his effort Wednesday. Esky popped out in the second, struck out in the fourth with a runner in scoring position and then -- in a dreadful moment that might have cost the Royals the game -- was unable to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the sixth with runners on first and second and none out. Esky fouled off two straight pitches, then hit a weak pop-up to second, and the runners stayed put.

"Missed opportunity there," Yost said, shaking his head.

If that wasn't enough, Esky came up again in a crucial situation in the eighth with the tying run on second and two out. He grounded out to third.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.