ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Kansas City Royals used a lucky carom off a post near the visitors’ dugout to stop Tyler Greene’s scamper around the bases, and extend their winning streak to four games.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas picked up the deflected ball and cut down Greene at the plate to end the game, capping a wild ninth inning and preserving Kansas City’s 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
“On that play, it doesn’t really matter where you make that throw,” Moustakas said. “You’ve just got to get it and get rid of it and give your catcher a chance to tag him out.”
Humberto Quintero, who had entered as a pinch hitter an inning earlier, appeared on replays to have blocked Greene’s foot long enough for his chest-high tag to count on a bang-bang call by plate umpire Alan Porter.
“It’s a tough call, the call’s been made,” Greene said. “Just from my perspective, I knew it was close but I thought I’d kind of gotten a foot in there.”
Royals manager Ned Yost joked his team had been “practicing that play.”
“That’s a play we work on all spring,” Yost said. “We executed it flawlessly.”
Greene slid into every base on his ill-fated tour. He reached on a two-out infield hit for his third single of the game, stole second while banging shortstop Alcides Escobar’s glove and scooted for third when the ball got away. He popped up after an off-line throw by Getz, noticed Moustakas moving away from the bag before getting to third and heard third base coach Jose Oquendo yelling “Go, Go, Go!”
“That’s a long run there,” Greene said. “I was going with everything I had into home and what happened, happened. I thought it was the right gamble.”
Carlos Beltran, who became the first switch hitter in major league history with 300 home runs and 300 steals, and St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse both thought Greene was safe. Both also felt it was a good case for baseball to expand its use of instant replay.
“It’s a tough call for the umpire right there and that’s why I’m a believer replay has to be more involved with plays like that,” Beltran said. “The big thing about this game is being able to make the right call and as players we’re just asking for that.”
The crazy finish came after Yadier Molina eased up on what he believed was an infield hit to start the St. Louis ninth. The catcher belatedly sped up after Escobar’s diving stop, and the shortstop made a strong throw to first as Molina banged his helmet with his hands.
Vin Mazzaro worked six scoreless innings and Jeff Francoeur had two RBIs for Kansas City, which matched its longest winning streak of the season. Jarrod Dyson added two hits, a walk and an RBI.
Jonathan Broxton worked the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances and No. 100 for his career.
The Royals also won four straight from May 12-15 at the Chicago White Sox and Texas.
Beltran had two hits and is batting .467 (14 for 30) during an eight-game hitting streak. He reached the 300-300 milestone against his first major league team, but was caught stealing by Mazzaro’s pickoff throw during the next at-bat.
The Royals trail the Interstate 70 rivalry 38-29, but are 14-14 in St. Louis.
Lohse (6-2) scattered 10 hits in seven innings, giving up three runs. He has worked at least five innings in all but two of his 20 career starts against the Royals.
Mazzaro (3-1) blanked the opposition through six innings for the second time in three starts, needing just 80 pitches while keeping the Cardinals off balance. Matt Holliday was an easy out all three times after entering the game 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBIs against the 25-year-old right-hander.
Mazzaro was briefly visited by a trainer in his last inning and was pulled with right calf tightness. But he did enough to earn his first interleague victory in seven decisions. He gave up four runs, three earned, in three-plus innings in a loss at Pittsburgh in his previous start.
“Vinny pitched great,” Yost said. “We wanted to send him back out because our pen, three or four guys were unavailable tonight, but when it started to tighten up we couldn’t take any chances.”
Escobar doubled with two outs in the second and scored on Dyson’s infield hit, and Alex Gordon doubled leading off the third and scored on Francoeur’s single.
Francoeur added a sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Royals built a 3-0 lead.
Matt Adams had an RBI double and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson delivered a run-scoring single as the Cardinals jumped on Roman Colon in the bottom half to pull within one.
Colon, recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday to bolster an overworked bullpen, made his first major league appearance since 2010 when he made the opening-day roster and appeared in just five games.
NOTES: Yost said he would platoon Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, the regular DH, at 1B in interleague games at NL parks. … Cardinals SS and leadoff man Rafael Furcal, mired in a 1-for-24 slump, did not start but was at the plate as a pinch hitter when the game ended. “I don’t think it’s necessarily anything mechanical, it’s just physically he’s beat,” manager Mike Matheny said. … Cardinals second-round pick Carson Kelly, a high school 3B from Beaverton, Ore., signed and betrayed no sense of awe in an impressive round of batting practice, with Matheny and batting coach Mark McGwire watching from beyond the cage. Matheny joked that the usual over-under on draftees is no balls hit out of the cage the first time around. “Most kids want to come up here and just start launching,” Matheny said, “and they walk out with their head hanging low.” … Gordon has scored in eight straight games after entering the game the only player in the majors with a pair of seven-game streaks with a run scored, according to STATS LLC.