KANSAS CITY — With two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Royals needed a run to break through a tie game.
Who better to step to the plate than Salvador Perez?
The Royals’ catcher delivered an opposite-field single to score Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez in the Royals’ 7-6 win over the Astros on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, snapping Kansas City’s four-game losing streak and opening the four-game set with the American League West-leading Astros on the right track.
After the Astros had retied the game in the top of the eighth, Astros reliever Yimi García got two quick outs before Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez hit back-to-back singles. Lopez stole second base for his third stolen base of the game, and Perez came through on a down and away slider.
Royals starter Carlos Hernández was tagged for four runs in six-plus innings, making mistakes over the middle of the plate that resulted in home runs from Aledmys Díaz (fifth inning) and Carlos Correa (sixth inning). But the right-hander was still efficient, needing 72 pitches and getting out of some key situations, like in the fourth with a double play that erased Correa’s single.
Hernández typically generates swings and misses with his pitch mix, but the 24-year-old only registered three whiffs of the 36 swings the Astros — who have the fewest strikeouts in the Majors — took. Hernández did not walk a batter.
After Correa’s homer put the Astros up by one with a 430-foot blast, Hunter Dozier did one better and tied the game on a 431-foot shot to left-center field. It was Dozier’s first home run since July 8 in Cleveland — with exactly 100 at-bats in between the two.