NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner doubled home the go-ahead run off Kelvin Herrera as the Yankees overcame Lorenzo Cain's three-homer performance to post a wild 10-7 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Gardner's deciding hit came after Ben Gamel reached on an eighth-inning error by shortstop Alcides Escobar. Brian McCann added a two-run double to give Aroldis Chapman some breathing room, as the fireballing closer worked the ninth inning for his first save as a Yankee, getting Cain to pop out to end the game. The Royals have lost 11 of their last 14.
"That's a good team they've got over there," Gardner said. "They have a really, really good bullpen, and so do we. There's a lot of firepower in both bullpens, which makes for an interesting game, especially late in the game, last couple innings. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that."
Cain hit his first two homers off Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, launching a solo blast in the third inning and a three-run shot in the fifth. Cheslor Cuthbert also hit a two-run homer off Tanaka, but the Yankees rallied to take the lead in the seventh inning against Joakim Soria, who balked before surrendering a run-scoring single to Dustin Ackley and an RBI double to Aaron Hicks. Cain homered off Andrew Miller to tie the game in the top of the eighth.
"I feel like this is the first time we've battled back through a game a couple of different times," McCann said. "Guys had some quality at-bats and huge moments. We really haven't done that all year. It comes down to continuing to play good baseball."
Tanaka battled through seven innings, despite tying his career high with six earned runs allowed. Kansas City starter Kris Medlen lasted just two-plus innings and was knocked around for four runs and six hits. Didi Gregorius' three-run, third-inning double off Brian Flynn highlighted the Yankees' offense until the seventh-inning rally.
"It's probably the worst stretch I've had in my career, my life maybe," said Medlen, who gave up a career-high nine runs in his last start. "I'm trying to remain positive, but when you're out there struggling, your team is putting up runs against a really good pitcher, and you're not producing, it gets frustrating.
"If you ride the peaks and valleys of the season, you're going to be pretty miserable all year, because there's goods and there's bads all the time. You just got to stay in that grey area. I'm just trying to stay there and not completely explode."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED LoCain rolling: Cain came into the game with a four-game hitting streak and seven hits in his last 18 at-bats. He stayed hot by slamming an opposite-field home run in the third off Tanaka. Then Cain unleashed a rocket over the left-field bullpen for a three-run blast in the fifth inning that put the Royals up, 6-5. Statcast™ projected the homer at 445 feet from home plate. Cain wasn't finished -- he smoked another opposite-field homer leading off the eighth and became the seventh Royal in history to hit three homers in a game. More >
"Not anything good happening for us right now," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Lorenzo has a huge night with three homers and can't even enjoy it."
Off night for Tanaka: The ace has been the Yankees' most reliable starter this year, allowing two earned runs or fewer in his first six outings, but the Royals gave him his first clunker. The six earned runs tied Tanaka's career high, also done on June 27 of last season against the Astros. The right-hander still battled to give his team distance on an economical evening, finishing with just 79 pitches through seven innings (56 for strikes).
"He gave us seven innings and kept his pitch count down," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought the difference tonight -- we've talked about how consistent his stuff had been -- [but] he didn't have a good slider tonight."
The Escobar error: Escobar won his first Gold Glove Award in 2015, but he now uncharacteristically has committed six errors this season after making a crucial one on Gamel's routine grounder with one out in the eighth. That jump-started the Yankees' three-run rally in the eighth off Herrera, who came into the game with a 0.00 ERA.
"It's not a focus issue," Yost said of Escobar's error. "It's a human issue. We don't do it very often. But you make errors."
Battling back: The Yankees came into play on Tuesday with just one win in 13 games this season when trailing after six innings, but they got off the mat against Soria, starting with McCann's opposite-field single. Ackley grounded a two-out RBI single to left, tying the game, and Hicks followed with a go-ahead double down the left-field line. They took advantage again in the ninth as Gardner ripped the go-ahead double off Herrera. More >
"We're trying to fight," Hicks said. "We're trying to fight for wins, and we're trying to score as many runs as we can and give our starting pitcher an opportunity to get the win."
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Cain became the third Royals player to hit three homers in a game against the Yankees, joining George Brett (1978 American League Championship Series) and Bo Jackson (1990).
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (2-2, 4.65 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as the series continues on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. CT. Ventura has had command issues -- he has walked 11 over his last two starts, and his 25 walks are a Major League high.
Yankees:Michael Pineda (1-3, 5.73 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season on Wednesday as New York and Kansas City play the third game of this four-game set at 7:05 p.m. ET. Pineda took a no-decision his last time out against the Red Sox, allowing two earned runs and eight hits over six innings in a 3-2 Yankees victory.