KANSAS CITY -- Lorenzo Cain knocked in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and Eric Hosmer followed with a three-run blast into the Party Deck at Kauffman Stadium as the streaking Royals won their fourth straight game in the late innings, this time 6-2 over the Rays on Monday.
The Royals now lead the American League Central by 1 1/2 games over the Indians and by two games over the White Sox.
"There's just a lot of positive energy with us right now," Hosmer said.
With the score tied 2-2 against Rays reliever Erasmo Ramirez, Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar singled and went to third on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run single to right from rookie Whit Merrifield. Cain then singled to right before Hosmer hit his 10th homer of the season. More >
"It feels good," Hosmer said. "It feels like I'm getting a lot of opportunities. I'm coming up in the right spots.
"I knew I hit it good and I knew it was over their heads. But I didn't know for sure it was out."
Ian Kennedy went six innings and gave up three hits and one run that was unearned. He walked a season-high five and struck out six.
"I was just missing off the plate a little bit," Kennedy said. "Got into a lot of deep counts, a lot of pitches. I couldn't quite make the adjustment to get it back on the corners."
Matt Andriese went seven innings for the Rays, giving up five hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out three.
"Matt Andriese was outstanding," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Really provided an awesome start for us. And their guy Kennedy dialed it in, got his changeup going. We couldn't seem to quite make an adjustment." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Paulo from Sao Paulo: Brazilian outfielder Paulo Orlando helped get the Royals on the board in the second inning by drilling a double into left-center field with Kendrys Morales on first -- Orlando extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games. Morales stopped at third, but then scored on a ground out by Cheslor Cuthbert when Rays second baseman Steve Pearce oddly chose to throw to first instead of home to get the slow-footed Morales. Orlando also singled in the seventh.
Conger's woes continue:Hank Conger's throwing woes have been well documented. Heading into Monday night's game, the Rays catcher had thrown out two of the last four attempted base stealers. Prior to that stretch, he'd endured an 0-for-48 stretch dating back to last season with the Astros. Monday night, Jarrod Dyson took off to steal third base in the bottom of the fifth. Conger threw and the ball sailed way above third baseman Evan Longoria out into left field. Dyson easily scored to put the Royals up 2-1.
"As far as the throw, obviously it was just a throw that got away from him," Cash said.
That's what speed does: Dyson singled with one out in the fifth, and raced toward second when Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings bobbled the ball. Dyson just beat the throw to second. That set up Dyson's steal of third and Conger's wild heave.
"That's what Dyson can do to a game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We all know how lethal he can be."
Hustling Pearce: With the Royals leading 2-1 with two out in the eighth and Steven Souza Jr. facing a 1-2 count against Kelvin Herrera, Pearce took off for third. Souza managed to hit a ball between short and third and the hustling Pearce never stopped, scoring on a head-first slide to beat Dyson's throw to the plate and tie the score.
"Both of the infielders were playing way back," Pearce said. "So I just figured go and maybe get a passed ball on the next pitch. [Souza] was able to put a ball into play and we got a good bounce."
Pearce left the game after scoring due to a recurring right-elbow problem. He said he would be ready to go on Tuesday.
"We're not a team that's going to separate a lot of ballgames. We've got to play pretty clean baseball. Right now, where we're at, it seems like those defensive miscues are really showing up big in the game... That's probably the sign of a team that's in a little bit of a funk. But yes, we gotta to clean it up defensively." -- Cash on the Rays' fielding woes. They made three errors Monday night and they've logged 11 in their last seven games..
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Odd but true, Dyson was born in McComb, Miss., as was Rays DH Corey Dickerson. Other Major Leaguers to hail from McComb include Dalton Jones, Blake Stein, Matt Tolbert, and Adrian Brown. But Monday night might have been the first time two natives of McComb started in the same Major League game.
The Rays challenged a safe call at third in the seventh when Orlando tried to advance from second to third on a groundout to Longoria. First baseman Logan Morrison threw back to shortstop Taylor Motter, who applied the tag to Orlando. After a delay of 1 minute and 3 seconds, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Drew Smyly (2-6, 3.92) makes his 11th start of the season. He's familiar with the Royals from his days pitching for the Tigers, the Royals' Central Division foe. Smyly is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 career appearances against the Royals.
Royals: Right-hander Dillon Gee (1-2, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals for his fourth start of the season. Gee gave up a season-high three homers his last time out in a 7-5 loss to the Twins.