PITTSBURGH (AP) — Neil Walker drove in the go-ahead run with a groundout during a wacky fourth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 on Saturday night.
The Pirates have won three straight and are 11-3 since May 25, the best record in the major leagues in that span. Pittsburgh, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, also moved four games over .500 at 31-27.
Clint Barmes drove in Pedro Alvarez with an infield hit as the Pirates scored five times in the fourth on three singles, only one of which made it to the outfield. Barmes eventually came around to score on Walker’s bouncer, lifting Pittsburgh to a 4-3 lead.
Jared Hughes (2-0) pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings to get the win and Joel Hanrahan got three outs for his 17th save in 19 opportunities.
Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer and Eric Hosmer had two doubles for Kansas City, which has dropped three straight. Vin Mazzaro (2-1) gave up four runs, three earned, and three hits in three-plus innings.
Betancourt hit his third homer in the third inning and Mazzaro singled in Hosmer in the fourth, collecting his first major league hit and giving the Royals a 3-0 advantage.
The Royals responded in the bottom half. Alvarez sparked the rally with a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch. Rod Barajas singled to right and Barmes brought home the first run with his grounder off the glove of diving shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Kelvin Herrera then came on to face pinch-hitter Matt Hague, who lifted a popup to right. Hosmer, normally Kansas City’s first baseman, let the ball drop in front of him but grabbed it with his bare hand and threw a strike to catcher Brayan Pena, who juggled the ball and Tabata was ruled safe.
Hosmer was playing right field to make room for Billy Butler at first. Butler is the Royals’ usual designated hitter, but Saturday night’s game was in an NL park.
Alex Presley then hit a slow roller down the line that third baseman Mike Moustakas couldn’t make a play on, driving in Barajas and tying it at 3. Walker gave the Pirates the lead and Garrett Jones drove in the final run of the inning with a fielder’s choice.
Pittsburgh’s James McDonald lasted just four innings, matching his shortest start of the season. He gave up three runs and five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.