- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost was already thinking about another inning of work for reliever Brooks Pounders.

There wasn’t another one after Mitch Moreland homered with two outs in the ninth to give the AL West-leading Texas Rangers a 2-1 victory over the stumbling defending World Series champions Saturday night.

“I was thinking myself he got two outs quick, I’m thinking maybe we send him out for another (inning),” Yost said. “And that thought went away quick, the very next pitch.”

Moreland hit a 1-0 pitch into the second deck of seats in right field, a 420-foot shot off Pounders (1-1) that sent the Royals to the seventh loss in eight games, and 32nd in 51 games overall since the start of June.

“I was trying to go down and away, and got way too much of the plate,” said Pounders, who was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday after Luke Hochevar was put on the disabled list.



At 49-54, the two-time defending AL champion Royals are five games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012 season.

Texas, which has an AL-high 61 wins, will go for a four-game series sweep Sunday.

Moreland homered twice in the series opener Thursday night, including a tiebreaking shot in the eighth inning for a 3-2 victory. He has 17 homers this season, four in the last five games.

“I’m just trying to go up there and get a good pitch. It was a guy I’d never seen before,” Moreland said. “He was pretty quick with the first one, caught me off guard. I wanted to make sure I was ready and got a good pitch, kind of middle of the plate, and I was able to drive it.”

Matt Bush (4-2) pitched two scoreless innings with one strikeout. The hard-throwing right-hander had allowed a pair of two-run homers to Oakland in losing his last outing Wednesday night.

Both starters, Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy and Rangers lefty Martin Perez, allowed one run over seven innings. Both finished 0-3 in six July starts.

Perez struck out five and got 14 of his 21 outs on groundballs, including three more double plays. The left-hander has induced a majors-high 28 double plays this season. Perez allowed consecutive singles to start the game, and leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar eventually scored on Eric Hosmer’s groundout for a 1-0 lead.

Kennedy struck out six without a walk.

“Seven strong innings. He was on the attack from the get-go,” Yost said. “He had his good breaking ball, good changeup today. He spotted his fastball really well. He pitched very, very well.”

OF SWAP

The Royals on Saturday acquired OF Billy Burns from Oakland for OF prospect Brett Eibner, who was sent back to Triple-A Omaha after Lorenzo Cain came off the disabled list Friday. Burns played 73 games for Oakland this season, but has been at Triple-A Nashville. Burns was assigned to Omaha.

FOUL HIT

Moreland was credited with a single on a foul pop in the fifth that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, who made an awkward tumble in foul territory when the ball hit his glove. He had been positioned near shortstop with the Royals shifted for the left-handed batter.

The ball landed in fair territory, and was initially ruled foul before Rangers manager Jeff Banister questioned the call and umpires changed it after conferring about the non-reviewable play. Yost argued after Moreland was awarded first base, but the Rangers didn’t score in the inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: Closer Wade Davis headed back to Kansas City on Saturday night for an MRI on his right arm. Davis, who last pitched Wednesday, was on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month with a strain in his forearm.

UP NEXT

Royals: Dillon Gee (3-4) has started only once in his career against Texas, going six innings in a win for the New York Mets in 2011. Gee is from Cleburne, Texas, about 45 miles from Rangers Ballpark.

Rangers: Right-hander Lucas Harrell makes his Rangers debut, four days after being acquired from Atlanta.

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