KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Look at it this way: The Royals got the opportunity to measure themselves this week against the American League’s best team — and see how far they have to go.
They also got three losses in four games after falling 5-4 to the Texas Rangers in 10 innings Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. That makes successive one-run losses after splitting the first two games.
This one stung a little more because they built a 3-0 lead for Luke Hochevar before seeing the Rangers erase that edge in a span of three batters with two homers.
Then it was back and forth before the Rangers got the final word.
Ian Kinsler ignited the winning rally with a drive to deep left-center that eluded leaping center fielder Lorenzo Cain at the wall. Kinsler turned it into a leadoff triple by just beating the throw by left fielder Alex Gordon.
Michael Young followed by punching a tie-breaking single into center.
Young moved to second on a wild pitch, but Holland struck out Josh Hamilton before issuing an intentional walk to Adrian Beltre. After Holland struck out Nelson Cruz, the Royals went to the bullpen again for lefty Francisley Bueno.
When Bueno hit David Murphy, and loaded the bases, manager Ned Yost summoned Aaron Crow for a right-on-right matchup against Geovany Soto, who grounded into an inning-ending force.
So the Rangers, from all that, got just one run.
One was enough for Joe Nathan, who preserved a victory for Mike Adams, 4-3, by working around a one-out single in the Royals’ 10th. Holland, 6-4, was the loser.
The loss also forced the Royals to settle for a 5-5 home stand that started with a three-game sweep of Detroit.
Cain made an amazing catch in the eighth that kept the game tied. The Rangers started a two-out rally in the eighth when Hamilton drew a walk against Kelvin Herrera. Hamilton went to second when Beltre flicked a single into left.
Herrera and the Royals escaped when Cain ran down Nelson Cruz’s line drive to deep center.
It was a temporary reprieve.
Texas starter Scott Feldman pitched around two singles in the first inning, surrendered a homer to Jeff Francoeur in the second and two more runs in the third. But he retired 11 in a row before handing a 4-3 lead to Michael Kirkman with one out in the seventh.
Eric Hosmer immediately tied the game with a homer to left-center field. That meant no-decisions for Feldman and Hochevar, who allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Hochevar retired the first 10 Rangers, and had a 3-0 lead, before Young pulled a one-out single past a diving Mike Moustakas at third in the fourth inning. Hamilton followed with a two-run homer on a 392-foot drive to right.
That quickly a 3-0 lead was down to 3-2.
Beltre followed with a homer on a 418-foot drive to center, and it was 3-3.
Catcher Salvy Perez set a Royals record when he ended the Texas fifth by picking off Craig Gentry at first.
It was Perez’s fourth pickoff of the season — in just 55 games. Darrell Porter had three in 1977, which John Buck matched in 2005. Perez also had three last year in 39 games.
Francoeur’s one-out homer in the second opened the scoring. He golfed a 1-0 fastball over the left-field wall for his 12th homer of the season but his first homer in exactly a month — Aug. 6 at Chicago.
Cain started the third inning with a double past third and stole third base without a throw, which prompted the Rangers to shorten their infield. The alignment didn’t matter when Alcides Escobar struck out.
And it didn’t matter when Gordon pulled a well-placed triple down the right-field line for a 2-0 lead. The Rangers kept their infield in, and got what they needed when Billy Butler sent a soft chopper to third. Gordon had to hold.
But Perez delivered a two-out RBI single to right that extended his hitting streak to 11 games, which matched his previous career best.
It was 3-3 in the seventh when Murphy lined a one-out single into center. Soto followed by tomahawking a drive to left for a double — and Murphy scored when ball got away from Gordon.
No error. The scoring credited Soto with an RBI. All that really mattered was the Royals, who once had a three-run lead, now trailed 4-3.