Yanks clip Royals in 10th to keep WC pace

Yanks clip Royals in 10th to keep WC pace

KANSAS CITY -- And Round two goes to the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who had four hits, clanked a bases-loaded ground ball off reliever Joakim Soria that went for an infield hit and drove in the go-ahead run as the Yankees grabbed a 5-4 win over the Royals in 10 innings on Tuesday night to even series at one game apiece. The game was delayed 59 minutes by rain after the fifth inning.

"You need breaks throughout the whole season," Ellsbury said. "Fortunately it was a break for us and it ended up working out, and we got out of a jam in the 10th inning."

Ellsbury's comebacker hit off Soria's glove and caromed toward third baseman Christian Colon, whose throw to first wasn't nearly in time, and pinch-runner Aaron Hicks scored from third.

"It's an easy ground ball right to me," Soria said. "I don't know if I slipped or something, but I ended up on the ground. Frustrating."

The Royals had runners on second and third with none out in the bottom of the 10th, but reliever Ben Heller struck out Lorenzo Cain. The Royals then had the bases loaded and one out, but Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve struck out Kendrys Morales, and got Salvador Perez to fly out to end the game and earn his first career save.

"It's really difficult. Kendrys Morales is a great RBI guy, Salvador Perez kills lefties," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Really tough situation. [Shreve] came in and really picked us up."

Shreve's first career save

The Yankees stayed 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the American League Wild Card standings. The Royals dropped to three games behind Baltimore.

Judge's gavel: Mired in a 2-for-28 skid, Yankees rookie Aaron Judge made solid contact in his first plate appearance, slugging a two-run homer to left-center off Edinson Volquez. It was the third big league homer for the rookie, who struck out in all three of his plate appearances on Monday. According to Statcast™, Judge's exit velocity was 103 mph and the home run traveled an estimated 419 feet from the plate. More >

Judge's 419-foot home run

"It's great. Big two-run homer, gave us the lead," Girardi said. "It was good to see. I still think his at-bats are pretty good. There's some strikeouts there, but this guy's got nine RBIs in less than 50 at-bats. He's been productive."

Dyson the ignitor: Royals leadoff hitter Jarrod Dyson again flashed his speed in helping produce two runs. Dyson ripped a gapper in the third inning with Raul Mondesi on first. Mondesi scored, and Dyson raced to third with a triple. In the sixth, Dyson legged out an infield hit, then scored on double into the right-field corner by Cain.

Dyson's RBI triple

Morales bomb: Morales pulled the Royals within 4-2 in the fourth inning when he lined a bullet into the right-field bullpen. That was Morales' 21st homer as he took over the team lead from Perez. Morales hit 22 last year in his first season with the Royals. Morales also brought the tying run home in the eighth with a sacrifice fly, plating Cain, who had walked, stole second and gone to third on a throwing error.

Morales' solo homer to right

"What these guys did is fought to the bitter end," manager Ned Yost said. "It was a game we were down 4-0 and battled back under horrible conditions. We had the [potential winning] run on second base and we just couldn't get it in. We battled our tail off and yeah, we didn't win, but you come back tomorrow and find a way to win."

Pen runs dry: The Yankees pushed the envelope by having Tyler Clippard start the eighth after he had worked 1 2/3 frames, including a key double play to escape the sixth inning. Clippard walked Cain to open the eighth and Girardi immediately called upon Dellin Betances, who had been a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities since taking over the closer's role. Though Betances retired all six batters he faced, Cain's speed, Gary Sanchez's throwing error and Morales' sac fly handed him a blown save. Betances did pick up the win, his third.

Cain steals 100th base

"I know how important these games are, but any pitcher, I'm not going to risk their health," Girardi said. "It's just not right. So I asked a lot out of Clippard, I asked a lot out of him tonight. Clip got us five outs and Dellin got us [six] outs. It's a lot to ask."

Volquez, who was chased after 3 1/3 innings, said he is dealing with a blister on his right thumb.

Volquez escapes trouble

"It's my little friend," said Volquez, who doesn't believe he will miss a start.

Also, Cain continues to deal with a sore left wrist and thumb that he injured during a swing a couple of weeks ago. He wears a heavy brace to protect it during pregame, and tapes it during the game.

Yankees: Right-hander Luis Cessa (4-0, 4.11 ERA) will start the series finale at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. ET. Cessa will make just his third career start, but has already looked impressive in the rotation, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and posting a pair of quality starts.

Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (9-9, 3.57) will get the ball on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Kennedy gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings in his last outing, snapping a stretch of five straight quality starts where he'd allowed one or fewer runs.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.