CINCINNATI -- The Royals completed a four-game season-series sweep of the Reds with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night to end the two-game Interleague set at Great American Ball Park.
Following a rain-delayed start of 1 hour, 37 minutes, both teams' starters struggled. Neither Keyvius Sampson of Cincinnati, nor Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie reached five innings, but they combined for 206 pitches. Sampson threw 95 pitches as he allowed four earned runs and nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. Guthrie gave up three earned runs and seven hits with 111 pitches over 4 1/3 innings.
"Just struggling with his command, wrestling with his command all night long," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Guthrie. "The zone seemed really tight, but they were calling pretty much balls for both guys."
A 2-2 game was snapped with a two-out rally in the Royals' second inning. Following an Alcides Escobar single, Ben Zobrist hit a ball to left field that went for a double when center fielder Jason Bourgeois threw to the wrong cut off man. Both runners scored on Lorenzo Cain's go-ahead two-run single to center field. Reliever Luke Hochevar pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory on Yost's 61st birthday.
Wade Davis notched the save by working out of jam in the ninth. With runners on first and second and two out, Davis fanned Joey Votto on a 3-2 pitch to end the game. The Royals' bullpen finished the two-game series giving up a combined three hits across 11 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED What happened? With one out and the bases loaded in the fifth while trailing by a run, Jay Bruce's popup fell in between pitcher Hochevar and first baseman Eric Hosmer. Bruce was called out with the infield fly rule in effect, but Bourgeois broke from third base and tried to score. Hochevar threw home, where catcher Drew Butera easily tagged out Bourgeois for the inning-ending double play. More >
"I think he felt in that situation obliged to run," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There's no fault on the umpires. They have to wait until there is a position player -- particularly an infielder -- underneath that ball before they can identify it as an infield fly rule. I think his reaction was just the fact that it landed. I think it was just an instinctive deal."
Back-to-back jacks: The Reds were trailing, 2-0, in the first inning when back-to-back homers tied it. With one out and a full count, Votto crushed a homer to center field -- his 22nd blast of the season. According to Statcast™, it exited Votto's bat at 109 mph and landed 412 feet away. Two pitches later with a 1-0 count, Brandon Phillips pulled a homer to left field -- his dinger ninth of the season. It was the fifth time this season that Cincinnati belted back-to-back homers. Later, Phillips left the game before the seventh with inflammation in his right biceps.
Royals score early: The Royals benefited from a close call to score two runs in the first. Zobrist hit a sharp double down the right-field line to score Alcides Escobar from first base to score the game's first run. Zobrist's double hopped over the bag and landed in foul territory, however it was ruled fair by first-base umpire Gabe Morales and the play was not reviewable. Zobrist, who finished with four hits in the game, eventually scored the second run of the inning on a single by Hosmer. Cain added a two-run single in the second inning. More >
"It's proven that this team knows how to win and knows how to close games out from the fifth inning on," Zobrist said. "So we get that lead early [and] get those important hits early, our bullpen has just been shutting it down."
Hosmer flashes glove: Hosmer proved he's capable of also making impressive plays on defense in the seventh inning with a sliding grab on Bourgeois' popup in foul territory. Hosmer was able to get over in time to make the sliding catch right in front of the Reds' dugout for the second out of a 1-2-3 inning.
"Knowing you're close to the wall right there those are the types of plays where you're better off sliding as you pull up close to the wall there," Hosmer said. "It just worked out, ended up being a big out for us."
REDS LOSE CHALLENGE
In the fifth with runners on first and second and none out, Votto hit a drive to the left-field-wall that was caught by a leaping Jarrod Dyson to take away an extra-base hit. The Reds challenged the ruling, believing the ball touched the wall before it went into Dyson's glove. But the call was confirmed by a replay official. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (6-5, 4.03 ERA) will get the ball on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT for the opener of a four-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Duffy went six strong innings against the Angels his last time out.
Reds: Left-hander John Lamb (0-1, 7.50 ERA) will start the opener of a four-game set on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the D-backs at Great American Ball Park. Lamb will be making his second Major League start after a four-run fifth hurt him last Friday in his debut against the Dodgers.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.