By Brittany Ghiroli and Jeffrey Flanagan
BALTIMORE -- Mike Moustakas belted a grand slam and a three-run homer leading to a franchise-record nine RBIs, and Salvador Perez had two hits and three RBIs as the Royals stormed to a 14-6 win over the Orioles on Saturday at Camden Yards.
The Royals, who had lost six of seven coming into the game, trimmed their magic number to 11 to clinch the American League Central, with the Twins' 8-2 loss to the White Sox. The Royals are 2 1/2 games ahead of Toronto for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, with the Blue Jays' sweep of a twin bill against the Yankees.
"I don't know if we needed a relaxer, but it was a big win," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We needed a win. These guys, they've come to understand that you go through bad streaks. You just work through it. Keep your energy and enthusiasm until you work through it. I've been pleased how they have managed that."
Yordano Ventura started for the Royals and went 5 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and four runs.
"Some things that didn't follow what guys are capable of and what they've done for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of his bullpen. "It's that time of year. Chaz [Roe], we just didn't stem the tide there. Very similar to what we did to them last night."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Moose magic: Moustakas twice came through in tough lefty-on-lefty matchups. With the Royals trailing, 4-2, in the sixth against Brian Matusz, Moustakas lined a two-run single up the middle, tying the score. Then in the seventh, Moustakas faced T.J. McFarland. With the count 0-2, Moustakas crushed a grand slam to right field, the second of his career. That gave the Royals an 11-4 lead. For good measure, Moustakas hammered a three-run homer in the ninth, while logging a Royals-record nine RBIs. More >
Teammate Eric Hosmer said, "Oh, man. That's a month's worth of work."
Reim time: Reimold homered for the second consecutive night, sending a 2-1 pitch from Luke Hochevar into the left-field seats. The O's outfielder has six RBIs in the series.
"I think [he's] not thinking about anything physically," Showalter said of Reimold, who had a pair of season-ending neck surgeries. "Five or six days ago, he said he thought he had found something at the plate, let it travel. He only had one at bat where he let it get out of the zone today."
Madson's clutch changeup: For the second straight game, reliever Ryan Madson was brought in to get the Royals out of a bases-loaded jam. On Friday night, Madson came on with none out and escaped with giving up just one run. This time, he entered with two out, but with the dangerous Chris Davis up and the Royals clinging to a 6-4 lead. Madson promptly struck out Davis with a terrific changeup, preserving the lead.
"That was just a great pitch," Yost said. "That's his bread and butter. We needed that there. Yordano was running out of gas and I wanted to save Ryan for the seventh, but I couldn't lose the lead right there."
Orioles bullpen implodes: After scoring 10 runs in the eighth in Friday's game, it was a role reversal for Baltimore. The O's relievers allowed seven earned runs over a three-out stretch with Kansas City scoring five runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. Matusz was charged with two runs while McFarland surrendered Moustakas' grand slam. Moustakas also went yard on Steve Johnson in the ninth.
"The first couple of batters, single up the middle, they're swinging it. They're an aggressive team. They're going to swing, and with my sinker, they were finding some holes early," McFarland said. "With Moustakas, he obviously had a big day too. He got a hold of the slider. Bad pitch to a good hitter. That's what happens."
ROYALS WIN CHALLENGE
The Royals challenged a forceout call at second in the second inning when Eric Hosmer was ruled out after a grounder by Kendrys Morales. The call was overturned and that proved huge because two hitters later, Hosmer scored on a bloop single by Perez.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Orioles' relief corps have allowed 13 earned runs over 7 2/3 innings in the first two games of the series.
"They've got a great lineup. They're very baseball smart. They hit the ball to what you give them. You throw the ball away, they're going to try to hit it away. You throw it in and they're going to try to pull it. That's what good teams do." --Tillman, on the Royals
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Ace Johnny Cueto (9-11, 3.24 ERA) was pushed back in the rotation for the nationally-televised series finale against the Orioles on Sunday at 7:05 p.m. CT. The right-hander is amid one of the worst stretches of his career -- losing four in a row with a 9.45 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP over that span.
Orioles: Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (8-7, 3.48) will get the ball for the series finale at Camden Yards on Sunday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Chen is coming off a short start against the Yankees on Monday -- allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits, including two home runs.