Any traction the Royals gained from a recent road trip that ended with four straight victories, and a two-game sweep at Texas, appears completely dissipated after blowing multi-run leads in three straight home losses.
No. 3 came Friday night in a 6-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks that marked the start of interleague play at Kauffman Stadium. Miguel Montero’s two-run double in the eighth inning against Tim Collins broke a 4-4 tie.
The Royals carried a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning behind Luis Mendoza and, after falling behind 4-3, had just pulled even at 4-4 on Alex Gordon’s RBI single in the seventh when Kelvin Herrera found trouble to start the eighth.
Willie Bloomquist, the ex-Royal, lined a leadoff single to left and raced to third when Justin Upton punched a single through the right side. Collins replaced Herrera for a left-on-left matchup against Montero, who sliced a drive into the left-center gap.
The ball eluded a diving Mitch Maier for a two-run double and a 6-4 lead. Arizona relievers Craig Breslow and J.J. Putz protected the lead over the final two innings and sent the Royals to their 16th loss in 20 home games.
Brad Ziegler, 3-1, vultured the victory from D-Backs starter Joe Saunders after blowing a save by allowing one run in the seventh. Herrera, 0-1, got the loss.
Montero also contributed an RBI double in the first inning to Arizona’s nine-hit attack. Bloomquist had three hits and scored twice. Upton had two hits and scored three times. Chris Young fueled the three-run sixth with a two-run double.
The Royals, 15-23, finished with 10 hits, including a two-run double by Humberto Quintero and Billy Butler’s club-leading seventh homer of the year. But they were also two for 11 with runners in scoring position, which makes them five-for-29 in their three-game skid.
Mendoza made his first start since April 26 as the rotation’s replacement for injured Danny Duffy. The Royals confirmed prior to the game that Duffy and reliever Blake Wood will undergo Tommy John surgery within the next two weeks.
And Mendoza yielded just one run through five innings before failing to survive Arizona’s three-run sixth. Saunders gave up two runs in the second on Quintero’s double and another in the third on Butler’s leadoff homer but exited with a 4-3 lead.
Ziegler inherited that lead to start the seventh but surrendered a leadoff double to Irving Falu, who moved to third on Butler’s grounder to second.
That prompted the D-Backs to shorten their infield, which enabled Alex Gordon’s sharp grounder to elude first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for an RBI single.
The tie didn’t last long.
Mendoza opened the game by getting two quick ground outs before trouble struck. Failure to get a borderline call resulted in a walk to Upton before Montero yanked a 2-2 fastball into the right-center gap for an RBI double.
The Royals answered in the second after Johnny Giavotella and Mike Moustakas opened the inning with singles, and Mitch Maier’s potential double-play hopper to the mound resulted in just one out when Bloomquist had to reach for Saunders’ throw.
That produced two runs instead of one when Quintero pulled a double into the left-field corner. The Royals stretched their lead to 3-1 when Butler opened the third inning with a 414-foot homer to center.
Mendoza carried the lead into the sixth before Arizona stirred to life with successive singles by Gerardo Parra, Bloomquist and Upton to start the inning. That produced one run.
Montero struck out, but the D-Backs started the runners from first and second on a 2-1 pitch to Young – and the move paid off big when Young lined the ball into the left-field corner for a double.
Both runners scored, and Arizona led 4-3. Mendoza exited later in the inning with two outs and runners at first and second.