KANSAS CITY -- Outfielder Jarrod Dyson delivered the decisive hit for the second straight night -- a safety-squeeze single -- and right-hander Edinson Volquez fired 7 2/3 strong innings as the Royals rolled to a 5-1 win over the Pirates in Wednesday night's rubber game at sold-out (39,105 fans) Kauffman Stadium.
"It was a pretty big series," said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who collected two hits including a fourth-inning homer. "That's a really good team over there. They do a lot of things well so for us to get two out of three and bounce back from Monday's loss, that's good."
With the score tied at 1 in the seventh, Alex Rios delivered a perfect hit-and-run single to send Omar Infante to third. Dyson, who hit a two-run single to beat the Pirates on Tuesday, then pushed a bunt toward first and Infante beat the throw home. The Pirates challenged the safe call, but the ruling was confirmed.
"I just got a fastball up and was able to pull my hands in," Moustakas said. "I was able to get the barrel through the zone."
As for Volquez, manager Ned Yost said, "He was phenomenal. He commanded all three pitches tonight. He kept his pitch count down. You know, those 3-4-5 hitters over there, they're really tough."
Pirates starter Charlie Morton went 6 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five runs.
"That was probably the best stuff I've had this year," said Morton, who elevated a 3-0 pitch that Moustakas got ahold of. "I was trying to stay out of the middle of the plate, so the count went to 3-0. He must've been looking for something up."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Hoz blast: Hosmer turned on a fastball from Morton with one out in the fourth inning and drove it over the right-field bullpen, traveling a distance of 446 feet from home plate with an exit velocity of 113 mph, according to Statcast™. It was Hosmer's ninth homer of the season and tied the game at 1. It also was Hosmer's first homer since June 19, a span of 101 at-bats.
Idle threats: Twice in a row -- in the second and fourth innings -- the Bucs got leadoff singles from Nos. 4 and 5 hitters Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang. They couldn't advance them as much as a base either time. More >
"We had some early chances on offense, a couple of times first-and-second and no outs," lamented Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "We just gotta keep working, play a better overall game."
Moose's homer: Moustakas smashed his 10th homer of the season in the seventh on a 3-0 pitch from Morton. There was a time Royals fans cringed when their hitters hacked at 3-0 pitches. But this year when the Royals put the ball in play on 3-0 pitches, they are 3-for-4 with a homer run and five RBIs.
"That one inning, when we line out twice … we just had poor aim." -- Hurdle, on a fourth-inning threat that fizzled when first Chris Stewart, then Jaff Decker, creamed balls caught in left and center, respectively.
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Thanks to the 10-7 win in the series opener before being held to a run in each of the last two games, the Pirates are tied for second in Interleague scoring this season with 75 runs, same as the Nationals; the Brewers are tops with 82 runs in Interleague Play.
The Pirates unsuccessfully challenged the seventh-inning play at home that resulted in the Royals' go-ahead run. With runners at the corners and one out, Dyson drag bunted for a single, and first baseman Travis Ishikawa flipped home in an attempt to nail Infante, who slid around catcher Stewart's tag attempt. Hurdle challenged that Infante never touched the plate, but to no avail.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Right-hander Francisco Liriano will make his first start since the All-Star break on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET, when the Pirates and Nationals open a four-game set at PNC Park. Liriano, scratched from his prior assignment when he awoke with a stiff neck, will be working on 11 days' rest.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young will get the ball on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. CT for an I-70 Series makeup game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Young beat the St. Louis, 5-0, on May 20, throwing six scoreless innings. He has a 2.93 ERA career against the Cards.