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Dyson leads Kansas City to win with glove, bat

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, June 23, 2014, at 11:33 p.m.

Photos

— The tributes poured in while Jarrod Dyson lay crumpled at the base of the center-field wall in Kauffman Stadium.

On the mound, Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie removed his cap. In the crowd, the fans on hand for a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers delivered a standing ovation. As he loped back to the dugout, Dodgers sophomore showman Yasiel Puig, the victim of Dyson’s outfield robbery, doffed his helmet.

Dyson crashed into a wall and stole a hit from Puig on Monday night. It was a play fit for highlight reels on an evening when backup outfielder Dyson contributed in various ways. He singled three times, drove in two runs, scored a third, stole two bases and contributed to the defense behind Guthrie.

In snapping a four-game losing streak, the Royals, 40-36, returned to the formula that sustained them in their 10-game winning streak. Guthrie kept the Dodgers off the board until Hanley Ramirez’s two-run double in the eighth.

A familiar face returned to town on Monday. Zack Greinke pitched at Kauffman Stadium for the third time since demanding a trade after the 2010 season. The crowd greeted him with polite applause during the pregame introductions. They showered him with jeers upon his exit midway through the sixth inning.

During their four-game skid, the Royals amassed eight runs. They touched up Greinke for five, his highest total allowed since July 3, 2013.

In 110 starts at this park, Greinke had given up only 48 home runs. The 49th came in the second inning when Salvador Perez pulverized a first-pitch slider and dunked his ninth homer of the season into the fountains.

The Royals capitalized on an opening with two outs later in the inning. Alcides Escobar nearly brained Greinke with a single up the middle. He took second base when Greinke skipped a curveball into the dirt. Dyson punched an elevated fastball into left for an RBI single.

Granted the lead, Guthrie set a brisk pace. He threw eight pitches in the first inning and four in the second. The third was a relative marathon: 11 pitches.

Guthrie entered the game on a roll. He posted a 2.85 ERA in his previous seven starts. He struck out 18 in his two starts on the last road trip, flustering the White Sox and Tigers. During this stretch, he credited his improved production to more confidence pitching inside.

“I’ve tried to back guys off,” he said last week. “I’ve tried to pitch for strikes in; I’ve tried to pitch for balls in. That’s the only real change I’ve made.”

He also trusted his defenders. With two outs in the fourth, Guthrie pumped a 93-mph fastball over the middle of the plate. Puig drove the ball to the deepest portion of center field. Dyson sprinted with his head craned over his left shoulder, gloved the ball and crashed into the wall.

Upon impact, he collapsed onto the ground. He rose soon after to an ovation for his effort.

In his next at-bat, Dyson was the catalyst for another run when he outlasted Greinke in an eight-pitch at-bat. Dyson fouled off three sliders before shooting a fastball up the middle. It was his second hit of the game, but he would not remain at first for long. Dyson jetted to second for his 11th stolen base of the season.

As Dyson ran, Lorenzo Cain waited at the plate. Manager Ned Yost installed him as the club’s latest leadoff hitter on Sunday. Cain hungered for the opportunity, and repaid Yost for his faith. Cain dunked a single to shallow right, which provided Dyson ample time to race the final 180 feet home.

Greinke departed an inning later. Perez raked a leadoff double. Alcides Escobar flicked a sinking liner down the right-field line. The ball bounced past Puig, and Escobar raced around to third base.

The night’s star brought him home. Dyson delivered Escobar to the plate with a single into center, and ended Greinke’s night in the process.

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