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Toronto Blue Jays edge Kansas City Royals

By Alan Eskew, The Sports Xchange
Toronto Blue Jays edge Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. Photo by Jeff Moffett/UPI | License Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Devon Travis made sure Francisco Liriano's debut with the Toronto Blue Jays was not ruined.

Travis opened the game with a home run and homered again in the ninth as the Blue Jays edged by the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Friday night.

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Travis' ninth home run off Kelvin Herrera with two out in the ninth was the decisive blow.

"A two-homer game in the big leagues," Travis said. "That is definitely something you dream about as a kid. It is a special day. Wake up tomorrow and it's a new day."

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Brett Cecil (1-6) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning to claim the victory, while Joaquin Benoit earned his first save of the season.

Herrera, who retired the first two batters in the ninth, dropped to 1-3, before serving up the game-winning blow.

"He put together a good swing," Herrera said. "I don't know how."

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The Blue Jays won four straight and six of eight. They are 4-0 against the Royals this season.

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"We were kind of in the situation where we were running out of relievers and we didn't want to go 12 or 13 innings or whatever, so he stepped up," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Travis' blast.

Liriano, who was acquired from Pittsburgh at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, yielded three runs, two earned, in six innings on seven hits and two walks. He threw 61 strikes in 93 pitches before leaving with the score tied at 3.

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Royals right-hander Dillon Gee, who has not picked up a win as a starter since May 31, went six innings, matching his longest outing of the season. He walked four and hit a batter, but limited the Blue Jays to four hits and three runs.

"Four walks, but the walks came all to the two-three-four section of their lineup, which is as potent as a 2-3-4 combination as anybody in baseball," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Travis led off the game with a home run, sending Gee's fourth pitch over the left-field fence.

It could have been a bigger inning for the Blue Jays. After Travis' eighth home run, Jose Bautista singled and Gee walked Josh Donaldson. Both moved up 90 feet on Edwin Encarnacion's groundout. Michael Saunders flied out to Alex Gordon in left, but not deep enough to score Bautista. Gee hit Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch to load the bases before Russell Martin flied out to deep right to end the inning.

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"It's just being careful," Gee said of the walks. "I don't want to give into these guys. It's too good of a lineup and they can hurt you really bad."

The Royals tied it with an unearned run in the bottom of the first. Darwin Barney's throwing error allowed Alcides Escobar to go to second to start the inning. It was Barney's first error in 170 2/3 career innings at third base. Escobar stopped at third on Cheslor Cuthbert's single and scored when Lorenzo Cain grounded into a double play.

The Blue Jays forged ahead with two runs in the third when Donaldson and Encarnacion drew consecutive walks with one out. Saunders doubled to left, scoring Donaldson and advancing Encarnacion to third. Tulowitzki's groundout to Escobar got Encarnacion home.

Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez singled with two out in the fourth, but the Royals failed to score as Gordon flied out to Saunders in left-field foul territory.

The Royals got to Liriano for two runs in the fifth to tie the score at 3. Paulo Orlando led off the inning with his third home run, taking a 2-0 pitch out to left-center. With two out, Liriano walked Cuthbert, who scored on Cain's triple to center.

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NOTES: Blue Jays OF Kevin Pillar, who was in a 4-for-25 skid with eight strikeouts, was not in the lineup. ... Manager Ned Yost said with RHPs Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar on the disabled list, he has no set roles for the bullpen with the exception of Joakim Soria "probably" in the eighth and Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning. ... Royals LHP Jason Vargas, who had Tommy John surgery last July, will make his first rehab start Saturday for Surprise in the rookie Arizona League. ... Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez and Royals LHP Danny Duffy are the Saturday probables.

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