KANSAS CITY -- Home runs continue to be a problem for the Royals.
After a solid start by right-hander Edinson Volquez on Sunday, Kansas City turned the ball over to Luke Hochevar in the seventh, and for the second straight day, the Royals' bullpen wasn't able to get the job done. Delino DeShields hit a go-ahead homer to left-center field, and the Rangers held on for 2-1 win at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have now given up at least one home run in 11 straight games.
"[Hochevar] tried to go down and away to DeShields. ... It had so much run, it kind of ran back to the middle," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I didn't think it was a horrible pitch. I thought that was a nice job of hitting."
With the win, the Rangers took their first road series since sweeping the Cardinals on June 17-19 and maintained their 2 1/2-game American League West lead over the Astros. Meanwhile, the Royals fell to 5-12 in their last 17 games and dropped to below .500 for the first time since May 17.
"A very nice way to end a road trip," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "This one had a little excitement and drama at the end, but I can't say enough how our guys continued to battle. It was a challenge for us, but it was good to watch Delino at the bottom of the lineup."
Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin looked solid after shaky outings in his last two starts. He held the Royals to one run on four hits in five innings. Volquez gave up seven hits and three walks in six innings, but got crucial outs to keep the Rangers off the board until the sixth. Hochevar took the loss, his second in July.
"We just didn't execute," Yost said. "We had opportunities. We just didn't capitalize on them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED DeShields back? DeShields is trying to restore the Rangers' trust in him after being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. Games like Sunday will help, as he had a walk, a stolen base and a double, to go along with his home run in the seventh. DeShields started all three games in Kansas City, although he batted in the ninth spot in the order in the last two.
"It was a good day," DeShields said. "I wasn't trying to do all that. I was just trying to put the team in position to score some runs."
Sweet 16: After starting the homestand with two hits in his first 17 at-bats, Kendrys Morales gave the Royals their lone run with a home run that just crept over the wall in left-center field. The homer, which was Morales' 16th of the year, traveled an estimated 412 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph, according to Statcast™. It was Morales' first home run since July 4 against the Blue Jays, and his first at Kauffman Stadium since June 26 against the Astros.
"Kendrys got some big hits for us today," Yost said of the slugger, who went 3-for-3 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. "We have to find ways to produce more offense." More >
Out at home: The Rangers were playing the infield back when the Royals had Morales at third and Alex Gordon at second with one out in the second. Whit Merrifield hit a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who threw home to get the slow-footed Morales trying to score.
"He is the slowest guy on the team," Andrus said. "I was aware if the ball was hit hard to me, I'd have a play. I didn't hesitate. I was trying to be aggressive and stop that run."
Escape artist: After a 1-2-3 first, Volquez dealt with runners in scoring position in every inning through the sixth. For the first five innings, he managed to keep the Rangers off the board by inducing some timely outs, which included a double play to get out of the third inning with runners on the corners and one out. Overall, the Rangers left six runners stranded in the first five innings before Mitch Moreland's two-out RBI single in the sixth.
"Really limited the damage," Yost said of Volquez. "Pitched in and out of trouble all day long. Just did a fantastic job."
Volquez said he was happy with how he pitched, and he credited catcher Drew Butera for calling a good game.
"I thought I had good stuff today," Volquez said. "My changeup was really good. … I had a great feeling for [my curveball too]."
"They had a guy out there starting the game that ... we call him kind of like a kitchen sink guy. He throws everything at you. He throws changeups, cutters, real slow curveballs, spots his fastball well." -- Yost, on Griffin
After Adrian Beltre led off the sixth with a base hit, Rougned Odor singled to right-center. Beltre went to third on the play, but Odor was thrown out by center fielder Jarrod Dyson trying for a double. The Rangers challenged the call, but it stood after the review. Beltre ended up scoring Texas' first run on a two-out single by Moreland.
The Rangers were also granted a crew-chief review on a ninth-inning call that Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch from Dyson. The call was overturned, Perez went back to the plate and hit the next pitch through the left side for a single.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches against the Athletics at 7:05 p.m. CT Monday at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Perez is 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA in nine starts at home. That's the second-lowest home ERA in the American League.
Royals: The Royals will continue their homestand with a three-game set against the Angels, starting on Monday at 7:15 p.m. CT at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Ian Kennedy (6-8, 4.28 ERA) will start the series opener. He struggled in his last outing, giving up seven earned runs and four home runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Indians.