Royals blow three leads in 12-11 loss to Yankees

NEW YORK _ It seems the Royals only angered their Bronx demons by beating the New York Yankees in Friday’s series opener.

Those demons returned with full force Saturday afternoon as the Yankees rallied for a remarkable 12-11 victory over the Royals.

Johnny Damon’s two-out single capped a two-run rally in the ninth inning against usually impregnable Joakim Soria. That came after the Royals leads of 5-1 and 10-6 earlier in the game.

Even so, the Royals appeared poised to snatch a second straight victory at Yankee Stadium after calling on Soria after taking an 11-10 lead when David DeJesus opened the ninth with a homer against Mariano Rivera.

It was the first homer surrendered this year by Rivera and only the second he has ever allowed to the Royals in 48 games in his 14-year career.

But the Yankees had an answer for that, too.

Jorge Posada tied the game with a one-out homer in the bottom of the ninth that ended Soria’s streak of successful saves at 13 in a row.

It got worse.

Wilson Betemit drew a two-out walk and moved to second when Melky Cabrera’s squibber up the third-base line refused to go foul and resulted in a single.

Damon then capped the first six-for-six day of his career by yanking a game-winning single into right. Damon had five singles and double and drove in four runs.

Soria, 0-1, was the loser. Rivera, 2-1, got the victory.

The Yankees finished with 19 hits, but the Royals still seemed positioned for a victory on three occasions. Instead, the lost for the 18th time in their last 20 games at Yankee Stadium.

Here’s how bad it was:

José Guillen hit two homers, including a grand slam, while driving in a career-high seven runs. He also threw out two runners from right field on a day when he exited after 6½ innings because of a deep bruise on his left shin from a foul ball.

It wasn’t enough.

Guillen’s seven RBIs also tied a franchise record that occurred on 10 previous occasions, most recently by Mike Sweeney on July 22, 2004 at Detroit.

The slam was the fourth in Guillen’s career and the 100th in franchise history _ but the first by the Royals in 238 games, dating to Ryan Shealy on Sept. 15, 2006 against the Mariners.

The Royals did most of their damage against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, who allowed 10 runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The 10 runs allowed matched a career high surrendered on two previous occasions.

And, still, Pettitte got a no-decision.

Royals starter Brian Bannister lasted just 3 1/3 innings before exiting in a four-run fourth after squandering a 5-1 lead.

The Royals took leads of 2-0 and 5-1 against Pettitte, but Bannister couldn’t hold it. The Yankees pulled even with that four-run before taking a 6-5 lead in the fifth on Jason Giambi’s homer against Joel Peralta.

Guillen’s slam capped a five-run seventh that finished Pettitte and gave the Royals a 10-6 lead. The Yankees came right back with a two-run homer in their seventh by Alex Rodriguez against Brett Tomko.

Ramon Ramirez blew a two-run lead in the eighth by allowing two singles and throwing a wild pitch before Damon delivered a two-run single.

Jimmy Gobble replaced Ramirez and yielded a single to Derek Jeter before retiring Bobby Abreu on a fly to deep left. Manager Trey Hillman then summoned Yasuhiko Yabuta to face Alex Rodriguez.

It worked. Yabuta got A-Rod to ground out to third on the first pitch.

DeJesus silenced the sellout crowd of 53,611 by hitting Rivera’s first pitch for a homer in the ninth. But it, too, turned into nothing but a footnote.

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