Royals’ rally falls just short as skid continues

A seven-run comeback ended in crushing defeat Tuesday night, as Royals reliever Scott Barlow couldn’t overcome a hit batsman in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Tigers leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman lined a walk-off single into right field for the Royals’ 8-7 loss — and their ninth consecutive defeat. It was one of the more heartbreaking losses during Kansas City’s skid, considering the club nearly came all the way back late in the game.

The Royals were on their way to a blowout loss and more questions about their offense after managing just four hits, all singles, entering the eighth inning. Then, Jorge Soler cranked his first home run in three weeks (since April 21), a three-run shot that cut the deficit to four.

Ryan O’Hearn, put in right field when manager Mike Matheny made defensive substitutions to give catcher Salvador Perez and second baseman Whit Merrifield a rest, drove in one in the ninth. With the bases loaded thanks to Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum’s error on Sebastian Rivero’s grounder, Soler jumped on the first pitch he saw for a game-tying three-run double to the center-field fence.

But Barlow wasn’t able to overcome a hit-by-pitch and a walk in the bottom of the ninth. With Grossman in a 1-2 count, Barlow and Rivero met with pitching coach Cal Eldred on the mound to confer about the next pitch. Barlow threw a 94 mph fastball down and in, but Grossman was ready for it and drove it through the right side of the infield as Goodrum came home for the win.