KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Danny Duffy's debut showcased potential, and some potential problems, but he was long gone by the time the Royals stumbled to their fifth straight loss when Texas scored twice in the 11th inning and held on for a 5-4 victory.
Adrian Beltre rammed a two-run single into center against Jeremy Jeffress for the winning runs after Jeffress loaded the bases with three walks. The Royals scored once in their 11th... and fell one run short.
The Royals emptied their bullpen by using all seven relievers, and their bench by using all four reserves, in a failed effort to snap their skid.
Jeffress (1-1) began the 11th inning by walking Endy Chavez, who moved to second on a sacrifice by Elvis Andrus. Jeffress then loaded the bases by walking Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis.
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Beltre punished Jeffress for that lack of command by lining a single into center.
Arthur Rhodes (2-2) got the victory as a reward for escaping a bases-loaded jam with one out in the Royals' 10th. Mark Lowe wobbled through the bottom of the 11th before closing out the victory for his first save.
The loss dropped the Royals to 20-22, which puts them two games below .500 for the first time this season.
The night started with the focus squarely on Duffy, the prize left-hander who made his big-league debut. He pushed his fastball up to 96 mph and surrendered just two tainted runs in four-plus innings, but....
Duffy lasted just four-plus innings because he threw 94 pitches in large part because he walked six. Much happened after his exit, which came with the score tied 2-2: Suspect base-running on both sides; disappointing outings from two of the game's top closers; plenty of missed opportunities; one clutch homer by Eric Hosmer.
The game turned, finally, on Jeffress' inability to throw strikes but not before both teams lurched through the late innings.
Royals closer Joakim Soria inherited a 2-2 tie to start the ninth and began the inning by walking Craig Gentry, the No. 9 hitter who has a .169 average in 71 career at-bats.
Gentry moved to second on Chavez's sacrifice, which prompted the Rangers to use Andrus, their regular shortstop, as a pinch-hitter for Andres Blanco.
Andrus lined a 2-2 fastball into center for a go-ahead single.
But just when the Royals appeared, at that point, headed toward a fifth straight loss, Hosmer opened the bottom of the ninth by driving Neftali Feliz's first pitch into the right-field seats for a game-tying homer.
It was Hosmer's third homer since arriving May 6 but his first at Kauffman Stadium. He hit two last week at Yankee Stadium. This one was a soaring drive tagged at 394 feet.
Then things got whacky.
Jeff Francoeur walked, which brought Jarrod Dyson into the game as a pinch-runner — but Feliz picked off Dyson before throwing a pitch to Billy Butler, who then walked on four pitches.
In came Mike Aviles as a pinch-runner — and Feliz picked him off, too, before ending the inning by striking out Wilson Betemit.
Beltre opened the Texas 10th inning with a single through the right side against Blake Wood, who then walked Mitch Moreland — and Beltre reached third when the fourth ball got past catcher Matt Treanor for a passed ball.
The Royals trapped Beltre between third and home for the first out on Mike Napoli's grounder to third. Wood escaped undamaged by striking out David Murphy and retiring Gentry on a grounder to third.
The Royals missed an even better chance later in the inning after Mitch Maier led off with a pinch single to left against Feliz. Maier moved to second on Chris Getz's sacrifice and to third on Alcides Escobar's soft single to right.
The Rangers called on Rhodes for a left-on-left matchup against Alex Gordon, who drew a walk that loaded the bases. But Rhodes stranded all three runners by retiring Melky Cabrera on a pop to short and Hosmer on a fly to left.
Texas starter Alexi Ogando settled for a no-decision despite limiting the Royals to two runs and four hits while throwing 116 pitches in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Ogando had trouble only in the second inning when three singles and a walk produced two runs.