Flanny's Five: Lough doesnâ€™t stop running in Royals' 4-3 win
JUN 26, 2013 11:22p ET
LOUGH WASN'T GOING TO STOP
Unlike last week in Cleveland, this time David Lough barreled past third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez and scored the game-winner from second base after Alex Gordon looped a single to left field as the Royals beat the Braves, 4-3, in 10 innings.
Last week, Lough ran through an ill-advised stop sign from Rodriguez and eventually got caught in a rundown. That unfortunate sequence prevented the Royals from tying the game, and the Royals wound up losing, 4-3.
This time, Lough didn't hesitate, and scored easily ahead of Reed Johnson's throw from left.
"I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice," a smiling Lough told me afterward. "I saw (Eddie) and he was waving me in but I wasn't going to stop anyway. I knew I was going to score."
Lough started the inning off with a single to center off tough left-hander Alex Wood.
Lough said Wood reminded him of White Sox left-hander Chris Sale.
"Same kind of funky motion," Lough said. "I just wanted to hang in there against him and just put good wood on it."
REMEMBER ALEX GORDON?
Alex Gordon virtually carried the Royals offensively through pril and then half of May. Then he virtually fell off the baseball planet the next six weeks.
But Gordon made a glorious return Wednesday, with a homer and the game-winning RBI single in the 10th inning.
Gordon led off the Royals' first with a blast to right-center, his first homer since May 9 at Baltimore. It also was the first leadoff homer for the Royals since last August 11 at Baltimore -- also by Gordon.
Gordon now has 10 career leadoff homers.
More importantly, Gordon and Billy Butler, the Royals' two best hitters each mired in horrific slumps, showed signs of coming out of their funks.
Gordon also singled and scored in the third inning, while Butler hit a booming double to right-center in the first inning, and delivered a two-out, RBI single in the third.
If the Royals have any chance at getting into contention in the American League Central, Gordon and Butler will have to carry the offense again.
Gordon, by the way, now has three walk-off hits this year.
BIG THUMBS UP
Starter Luis Mendoza pitched brilliantly through six shutout innings before allowing two singles in the seventh – unfortunately both scored when Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar coughed up a 3-0 lead.
Mendoza is another key ingredient to the rotation and has shown flashes of brilliance lately, including seven shutout innings on June 9 against Houston when he again got a no-decision.
BIG THUMBS DOWN
It is becoming clearer and clearer that left-hander Bruce Chen isn't suited for high-leverage situations, and shouldn't be used other than in long relief.
Chen has a pretty 2.25 ERA but Chen allowed both inherited runners from Mendoza to score, and Chen now has allowed 11 of 12 inherited runners to score this season.
Another thumbs down to Elliot Johnson, who struck out in a key moment in the ninth inning Tuesday with runners on first and third and none out, and then got picked off first base in the ninth inning Wednesday night.
Johnson had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Mike Moustakas, who had two more hits and is riding a six-game hitting streak.
One more thumbs down goes to Lorenzo Cain, now hitless in his last 18 at bats and just four for his last 42.
ENCORE FOR ACE VENTURA
Royals top pitching prospect Yordano Ventura, the right-hander with the 100-mph fastball, will make his second straight appearance in the All-Star Future's Game after being named to the World roster. Ventura started for the World team last summer at Kauffman Stadium.
The game at Citi Field in New York on July 14 also will feature another Royals' farmhand – right-hander Miguel Almonte, who was signed as a non-drafted free-agent in 2010. Almonte, 6 feet 2, is 3-5 for Class A Lexington (Ky.) with a 3.42 ERA. He struck out a season-high 12 hitters Tuesday night.
Ventura, 22, is 5-3 this year, splitting time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. He has a 3.14 ERA overall.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org