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Aoki sparks Royals again

AP, Kyodo

The Kansas City Royals conjured up a little more late-game magic Wednesday night.

This time, they didn’t wait until the ninth inning.

Shut down most of the night by the Twins’ Phil Hughes, the Royals finally broke through with six runs in the eighth. Nori Aoki drove in the go-ahead run, and Billy Butler and Salvador Perez each drove in a pair during the surge, sending the Royals to a 6-1 victory.

“That’s kind of who we are,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’re a team that plays with a lot of heart, with a lot of energy and a lot of passion.”

Aoki, Kansas City’s leadoff hitter, went 2-for-4 with a run.

In the series opener, the Royals were shut out until the ninth inning, when Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer for a 2-1 win. This time, it was a series of bloopers and infield singles that gave Kansas City the offense it needed in the waning innings.

“We’re just living on a high right now,” said Jarrod Dyson, whose bunt single scored the tying run. “We’re going out and having fun and playing like we’re 5 years old.”

Wade Davis (8-2) pitched a perfect eighth for the win, helping the Royals extend their lead over Detroit to 2½ games in the AL Central. They have won 11 of their past 13 at home.

Minnesota has lost four straight and eight of 11 overall.

“We’ve scored two runs in two games here,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s not going to win very many games.”

Kansas City’s big rally began when Raul Ibanez led off the eighth with a blooper to right, and Mike Moustakas beat out an infield hit with a dive to first base. Two batters later, Dyson’s bunt allowed pinch runner Lorenzo Cain to slide home and knot the game 1-1.

Aoki followed with a slicing single to left field to give the Royals the lead, and Butler and Perez added four more runs with two well-timed hits to provide plenty of cushion.

“Getting a hit in that last at-bat was everything: getting one hit at the most critical moment,” Aoki said. “If I hadn’t swung, it probably would have been a ball, but it was a good pitch to hit. If the shortstop had been taller, he might have caught it.”

Most of the game had been an entertaining duel between Hughes (14-9), who had won his last four starts, and Liam Hendriks, a former Twins pitcher making his Royals debut.

Hughes gave up singles in each of the first two innings before finding his groove, allowing one other baserunner until his fateful eighth. Hendriks retired the first 14 batters he faced, and never ran into trouble until Kennys Vargas singled with one out in the seventh.

White Sox 3, Indians 2

In Chicago, rookie Jose Abreu hit a pair of run-scoring singles against Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, and the hosts stopped a season-high, seven-game losing streak

Abreu put the White Sox ahead for good in the seventh with his third hit of the game. Abreu drove in his AL-high 96th run.

Athletics 5, Astros 4

In Houston, Sam Fuld’s tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth inning gave Oakland a victory over the Astros.

It was the Athletics’ major league-leading 12th win this season when behind after seven innings and they’ve scored 28 runs against Houston in the ninth this year.

Oakland trailed by one entering the ninth before Eric Sogard’s RBI single, and Fuld’s two-out shot off Chad Qualls (1-4) landed in the seats in right field to put the visitors up 5-3.

Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 2

In Toronto, pinch hitter, Danny Valencia blasted a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning.

Jose Bautista homered for the second straight night, a two-run drive in the first.

With the Red Sox leading 2-1, Edwin Encarnacion doubled off Joe Kelly starting the seventh, and left-hander Tommy Layne (0-1) relieved. Dioner Navarro’s at-bat was prolonged when catcher David Ross dropped his foul popup for an error, and Navarro singled.

Right-hander Junichi Tazawa came in, and Valencia turned on a 2-0 pitch for his first home run since Toronto acquired him from Kansas City on July 28. Eight of 20 home runs off Tazawa in his big league career have been hit by Blue Jays batters. Tazawa blew his fifth save of the season.

Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki was hitless in two at-bats

Rangers 12, Mariners 4

In Seattle, Rougned Odor hit a third-inning grand slam to back Colby Lewis, and last-place Texas beat the Mariners.

Erasmo Ramirez (1-6), recalled from Triple-A Tacoma for the start, allowed 10 runs and nine hits in three-plus innings.

Lewis (9-11) allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked one in his second complete game of the season and second in August.

Rays 3, Orioles 1

In Baltimore, Drew Smyly allowed two hits over seven innings in his second straight overpowering performance.

Evan Longoria had three hits for the Rays, who won for only the fourth time in 11 games. Tampa Bay scored all its runs in the first two innings and Smyly (9-10) made the margin stand.

Smyly gave up a solo homer to Chris Davis in the second inning and a single to Steve Pearce in the seventh. The left-hander struck out six and walked one in his fifth start for the Rays since coming from Detroit in a trade involving David Price.

Yankees 8, Tigers 4

In Detroit, New York chased David Price with nine straight hits in the third inning.

The Yankees scored all eight of their runs in the third off Price (12-10), who had pitched a one-hitter in his previous start. Jacoby Ellsbury started the barrage, and New York went all the way through the batting order until the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner was pulled after the ninth hit of the inning.

Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning. He singled in his lone at-bat in the ninth.

INTERLEAGUE

Angels 6, Marlins 1

In Anaheim, Mike Trout tied a career high with his 30th home run, Gordon Beckham homered for the first time with his new club, and Los Angeles beat Miami.

Hector Santiago ended a string of six consecutive no-decisions in a starting role, helping the Angels maintain their one-game lead in the AL West over Oakland and improve the major leagues’ best record to 79-53.

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