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Texas Rangers edge Kansas City Royals behind strong effort from A.J. Griffin

By Alan Eskew, The Sports Xchange
Texas Rangers edge Kansas City Royals behind strong effort from A.J. Griffin
Texas Rangers pitcher Keone Kela. Photo by Michael Prengler/UPI | License Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals like to claim they have the best bullpen in the majors, but on Sunday the Texas Rangers had a better one.

A.J. Griffin and four Texas relievers held the Kansas City Royals to seven hits as the Rangers held on for a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon.

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Griffin left after five innings and four hits, allowing a run on a Kendrys Morales homer. Rangers relievers Alex Claudio, Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson held the Royals to one hit the final four innings. Claudio (2-1) claimed the victory.

"It was awesome," Dyson said to have the bullpen lined up perfectly. "Claudio pitched his butt off. Keone pitched well. Diek pitched well. The defense did their part and the offense came through."

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While Dyson collected his 20th save, he gave up singles to Morales, his third hit, and Salvador Perez before retiring pinch hitter Christian Colon to end the game.

"There was a little excitement, a little drama at the end," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That's a very nice way to end this road trip."

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Delino DeShields led off the Rangers seventh with a go-ahead homer run off Luke Hochevar (2-3).

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"You're never expecting home runs, especially with our pitchers," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Did I expect it? No. But it was a nice piece of hitting. He had enough power to hit it out of the ballpark."

Banister was not expecting it either from DeShields.

"It was a challenge for us, but thank goodness we had Delino DeShields sitting down there at the bottom of the lineup for us," Banister said. "He gave us a spark with a double and the home run, something we don't always look for from him."

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The loss dropped the Royals to below .500 for the first time since May 15. They have lost seven of their past 10.

Morales led off the Royals' fourth with a home run on a full-count pitch for the only run in the first five innings.

The Royals wasted a golden opportunity to score in the second inning. Morales led off with a four-pitch walk and advanced to third on Alex Gordon's double down the right-field line. It was Gordon's sixth hit in as many at-bats against right-hander A.J. Griffin.

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Paulo Orlando struck out for the first out. Morales was thrown out at the plate when he attempted to score on Whit Merrifield's grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus. The inning ended on Drew Butera's pop up to Andrus.

The Rangers put on two runners in the top of the second when Rougned Odor singled and Mitch Moreland drew a two-out walk. Robinson Chirinos turned on a pitch and drove it to deep left, but Gordon was able to snag it.

DeShields led off the Rangers' third with a walk and Nomar Mazara dropped a fly ball single into shallow right between three Royals defenders to put runners on the corners with one out. Volquez pitched out of that jam by inducing Ian Desmond to ground into a double play.

Volquez worked out of more jams in the fourth and fifth. Odor, who went 3-for-3, walked and Andrus singled with one out in the fourth, but Volquez retired Moreland on a grounder and struck out Chirinos to strand the runners.

"I think I had good stuff today," Volquez said. "I think my changeup was really good today. I threw a lot of changeups. Later in the game I used my curve more than my changeup. Pitching with the runners on bases. I did a pretty good job on that."

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DeShields doubled off the left-field bullpen fence to open the fifth, and Jurickson Profar bunted him to third. With the infield in, Mazara hit a sharp bouncer to second baseman Whit Merrifield, who threw to first as DeShields remained at third base. Desmond's grounder to third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert ended the inning.

The Rangers went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners.

NOTES: The Rangers signed LHP Craig Breslow to a minor-league contract and sent him to Triple-A Round Rock. Breslow, 35, was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Miami before being dispatched to the minors on May 13 and released on July 18. ... RHP Yordano Ventura, who left after five innings after being struck in the right ribcage area by an Adrian Beltre line drive, is penciled in to start Thursday at Texas. ... The Rangers are hitless in their past 10 at-bats with the bases loaded. ... Rangers LHP Martin Perez will start Monday for the Rangers at Arlington, Texas, against the Athletics, who will counter with RHP Daniel Mengden. It will be the Rangers' first home game since the All-Star break. ... The Royals continue their homestand Monday, starting RHP Ian Kennedy against the Angels, who will start LHP Hector Santiago.

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