Astros 5, Royals 4
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) _ With Kansas City playing two outfielders and five infielders, Karl Allaire’s fly ball to center drove home the winning run as the Houston Astros edged the Royals 5-4 Monday for their first exhibition victory.
Allaire’s single came with nobody out and capped Houston’s four-run ninth inning.
The Astros are now 1-3. The loss was the first for the Royals after three wins.
Kansas City reliever Ken Adams came on in the ninth to hold a 4-1 lead, but walked Karl Rhodes, Craig Reynolds and Greg Gross to load the bases. Hector Wagner, 0-1, then gave up a two-run single to Thad Bosley and Craig Biggio followed with an opposite field double to drive in pinch-runner Casey Candaele with the tying run.
Royals Manager John Wathan decided to do without a left fielder and go with five infielders. But Allaire drove in the go-ahead run with a fly ball to straight-away center that neither center fielder Nick Capra, playing out of position, nor right fielder Gary Thurman could chase down.
Reliever Dave Smith pitched the final inning and was credited with the win.
The Astros comeback spoiled the combined pitching performances of starter Floyd Bannister, Tom Dordan and Steve Farr, who gave up only three hits over the first eight innings.
Kansas City scored single runs in the second and fourth innings and expanded its lead to 4-1 in the top of the ninth when Mike McFarlane hit a bloop single off Smith and Rey Palacios followed with a home run over the left-center field fence.