Rays done in by big innings, handed 4-game sweep by Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rays manager Kevin Cash remained the consummate optimist Thursday, even after watching his team get rolled by the Kansas City Royals to finish off another four-game sweep.

"It hasn’t been going well for us, obviously," said Cash, whose team has lost 11 of its past 12 games.

"We’ve had times throughout the season where it has and right now it’s not going that well. We need to get home and hopefully change that around, turn that around.

"These guys will do it," he added, "because they’re positive, they’re energetic."

They could use some better pitching, though.

Nathan Karns (4-5) allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings, the latest in a string of lousy Tampa Bay starts. Matt Moore and Matt Andriese failed to make it five innings the first two games of the series, and Chris Archer allowed a career-high nine runs Wednesday night.

Kansas City piled up 33 runs total in the four-game set, more than the reigning AL champions had scored in their previous 10 games combined.

"It’s just one of those parts of the season that no one can really figure out why we’re there and how we’ve got here," Karns said, "but we’re here."

Box score

Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez each hit two-run homers, and Yordano Ventura (4-6) returned from the disabled list to throw five decent innings for Kansas City. The result was a victory that helped to take some of the sting out of losing All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon.

Earlier in the day, the Royals announced that Gordon would miss at least eight weeks with a several strained groin muscle. Even in the best-case scenario, that would put his return at some point in September, when the Royals hope to be in the thick of the playoff chase.

In the meantime, they’ll have to do without him.

"Next guy in line has to step up. That’s it," said Jarrod Dyson, who started in his place and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch at the wall in left to set the tone in the first inning.

Eric Hosmer, Cheslor Cuthbert and Kendrys Morales also drove in runs off Nathan Karns (4-5), the latest Rays starter to get pummeled by Kansas City. The Royals scored at least seven runs in every game of their first four-game sweep since September 2008, against Seattle.

Even without Gordon’s hot bat in the lineup, the Royals struck first for the first time during their eight games this homestand. Hosmer doubled home Alcides Escobar in the first inning, and Cain followed with his two-run shot into the stands in left field.

All three runs were scored in the first five pitches.

The Royals tacked on another run in the second when Cuthbert tripled to right.

Ventura was cruising along through four innings, shutting out Tampa Bay — which had not scored a single run to support Karns in his past three starts.

But the Rays finally broke through in the fifth when David DeJesus and Asdrubal Cabrera strung together hits and Kevin Kiermaier and Rene Rivera walked to force in a run. John Jaso and Grady Sizemore added sacrifice flies to get Tampa Bay within 4-3.

But the Royals answered with three runs in the bottom half — Morales hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, and Perez lined his two-run shot into the bullpen in left to put the game away.

"We’re blowing it up a bit," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

SHH, KEEP QUIET

Cain was ejected prior to the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. It was his second ejection of the season. Paulo Orlando replaced him in the lineup.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Jaso came off the DL for the series opener and went 7 for 12 with a pair of walks. He had been out since the first week of the season with a bruised wrist.

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) will make a rehab start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Monday. The plan is to activate him from the DL after the All-Star break.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez will start against Houston on Friday night.

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy will be on the mound against Toronto on Friday night.