Royals edge Orioles 2-1 to take 3-0 lead in ALCS
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Billy Butler drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning as the Royals’ bullpen shut down the Baltimore Orioles the rest of the way for a 2-1 victory Tuesday that gave Kansas City a commanding 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas made two marvelous plays as the Royals won their 10th straight postseason game, including all seven this year.
Earlier, a wild throw by relief pitcher Randy Choate on a bunt allowed Brandon Crawford to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the San Francisco Giants over the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 for a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Kansas City will send Jason Vargas to the mound for Game 4 on Wednesday needing just one more win to reach their first World Series since 1985. Miguel Gonzalez will try to help the Orioles stave off elimination.
The Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie and Orioles’ Chen Wei-yin engaged in a tense pitching duel for five innings.
Chen gave up a leadoff single to Nori Aoki in the sixth. Eric Hosmer followed with a one-out single to put runners on the corners, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter brought in hard-throwing reliever Kevin Gausman to face Butler.
The Royals’ designated hitter sent a fly ball to left field for the tiebreaking run — just the latest example of Kansas City doing the little things right.
After winning pitcher Jason Frasor breezed through the sixth, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis nailed down the next two innings. All-Star closer Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his third save of the series, setting off a wild celebration in the stands.
It was the 13th game to be decided by one run this postseason, matching the record set in 2011 and tied last year. Six games have gone to extra innings, including the Giants’ 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Cardinals hours earlier in the NLCS.
At San Francisco, Crawford drew an eight-pitch walk from Choate to begin the inning, ending a stretch of 16 straight Giants retired since Tim Hudson’s two-out single in the fourth. After failing on two sacrifice attempts, Juan Perez singled to bring up Gregor Blanco.
Blanco fouled off a bunt try, too, but then pushed one to the left side of the mound and the left-handed Choate’s sidearmed throw sailed past lunging second baseman Kolten Wong, who was covering first base.
“We don’t do anything easy,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We might have got a little lucky there with Perez when he couldn’t get a bunt down and he gets a base hit. But Blanco laid down a beauty. ... I don’t know if that’s luck as much as great bunt, great speed to put pressure on them.”
Randal Grichuk tied it with a solo homer in the seventh that chased Hudson.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night, with Ryan Vogelsong pitching for the Giants against fellow righty Shelby Miller.
This walkoff win came 12 years to the day after Kenny Lofton’s single in the ninth inning ended the 2002 NLCS against the Cardinals and sent the Giants to the World Series.
Playing without injured catcher Yadier Molina, the Cardinals had their chances. They squandered Wong’s double in the second before he delivered a wind-aided, two-run triple in the fourth.
Javier Lopez got the first two outs of the 10th before Jon Jay’s single, just the third hit by a left-handed batter against Lopez since he joined San Francisco in 2010. Two of those are by Jay this series.
Sergio Romo entered and retired Matt Holliday on a full-count grounder to third that Pablo Sandoval snared and fired to first.
Molina, nursing a strained left oblique sustained in Game 2 Sunday, began warming up Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen in the ninth but never played.