- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Kendrys Morales lost sight of his deep drive to center field. Turns out he missed seeing the end of a quirky long ball.

Morales hit his 15th homer, Edinson Volquez pitched into the seventh inning and the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Friday night.

Morales put the Royals up 3-1 with a two-run shot in the third off Erasmo Ramirez (10-5) that struck an overhanging catwalk.

“I was confused in a couple of ways,” Morales said through an interpreter. “I didn’t think I hit the ball that well, and I didn’t see where it actually hit.”

Morales has 89 RBIs this season, including a majors-best 46 with two outs.

“He’s been consistent all year,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “Got a lot of big hits, picked up a lot of big RBIs. An anchor in the middle of our lineup.”

Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier started to climb the fence on Morales’ drive, but the ball ended up well short of him after striking the overhead structure.

Volquez (12-7) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. Greg Holland, the third Kansas City reliever, got three outs for his 29th save.

“I thought he did a great job of navigating the lineup a couple of times,” Yost said of Volquez.

The Royals (79-49) are 30 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the AL Pennant-winning season of 1980 at 97-65.

Ramirez gave up three runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings for the Rays, who fell 3 1/2 games back in the crowded second AL wild-card race. Tampa Bay is 1-3 on a six-game homestand.

The Rays closed to 3-2 in the third as Daniel Nava scored when left fielder Paulo Orlando dropped John Jaso’s routine fly for an error.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was ejected by first base umpire Brian O’Nora for arguing after the next batter, Logan Forsythe, was called out on a grounder to short with runners on second and third with two outs.

Cash couldn’t challenge the call after having an earlier unsuccessful one.

“I think the replay shows enough,” Cash said. “It stings, but it’s part of baseball.”

O’Nora had another call overturned after a Kansas City challenge in the first inning when Ben Zobrist was called out on what was changed to an infield single.

Kansas City took a 1-0 lead on Orlando’s second-inning RBI single. The Rays tied it at 1 in the bottom half when James Loney had a run-scoring double.

Zobrist had the infield single and a double in four at-bats during his first game at Tropicana Field since being traded by the Rays to Oakland in January. Zobrist, obtained by the Royals from the Athletics July 28, played nine years for Tampa Bay and received a standing ovation after a video tribute was shown on the scoreboard prior to the game.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: LF Alex Gordon, out since July 9 with a strained left groin, played in his sixth game with Triple-A Omaha.

Rays: OF Steven Souza Jr. (broken left hand) is looking to return in mid-September. He has sidelined been since Aug. 2.

ROYAL FLUSH

Kansas City has scored 36 runs in winning all five games against the Rays this season. … The Royals are 19-5 against Tampa Bay the last four seasons.

NUMBER’S GAME

Rays: OF Brandon Gomes tied the team mark held by Sean Rodriguez (2011) when he got by a pitch for the 18th time this season.

Royals: Morales had his 26th multi-RBI game, the most by a Kansas City player since Carlos Beltran had 26 in 2003.

UP NEXT

Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-6) and Royals RHP Kris Medlen (2-0) are Saturday night’s scheduled starters. Odorizzi has five straight no-decisions, which ties the Tampa Bay team record set by current Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland in 2000.

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