Melendez, Perez lead Royals to 5-4 comeback win over Twins

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – MJ Melendez hit a two-run homer, Salvador Perez drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out double in the seventh inning, and the Kansas City Royals held off the rapidly fading Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Tuesday night to open their final homestand of the season.

Dylan Coleman (5-2) pitched a scoreless seventh for the Royals, then Scott Barlow cleaned up Jose Cuas‘ mess by striking out Mark Contreras to strand runners on second and third in the eighth, before handling the ninth for his 22nd save.

“It was a tough game,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, whose club has dropped five of six to begin an eight-game trip, including four of five to AL Central-leading Cleveland. “Things didn’t go the way we would have liked.”

The Royals trailed 3-0 in the second, pulled ahead in the fifth and were still tied 4-all when Melendez doubled off Twins reliever Michael Fulmer (5-6) in the seventh. Bobby Witt Jr. followed with a double, then took third when Melendez tried to score and was thrown out by Twins left fielder Jake Cave on a bang-bang play at the plate.

Perez came through on the very next pitch, though, dumping the go-ahead double down the right-field line.

“He just swells in those situations,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “You need that guy who says, `OK, I’m going to take care of this.”‘

Kansas City, which was swept in three games at Target Field last week, had lost 12 of its last 14 to the Twins.

The Twins appeared to be continuing their mastery of the Royals this season, too, when they jumped ahead 3-0 in the second on Matt Wallner’s run-scoring double and a two-run single by Carlos Correa.

They nearly pushed another run across in the third, too, but Royals starter Zack Greinke struck out Gio Urshela and Cave, ending the threat while picking up his 1,000th strikeout in a Kansas City uniform.

“Just an incredible accomplishment,” Matheny said.

Melendez’s two-out homer in the third got Kansas City within 3-2, then Hunter Dozier‘s shot leading off the fifth tied the game and ended a streak of 115 at-bats without a home run. Witt added a go-ahead RBI single later in the inning.

Cave answered for the Twins off reliever Amir Garrett to tie the game 4-all in the sixth.

Greinke allowed four runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for Kansas City. Twins counterpart Dylan Bundy allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings.

“Just poor execution with a couple of pitches,” Bundy said. “I’ve got to work deeper into games and I haven’t done that.”

SCARY MOMENT

Correa was thrown out at second base in the seventh inning, and the tag hit his lower right leg and left the Twins shortstop laying on the ground. He said afterward that “it just felt numb,” but Correa felt good enough to finish out the game.

GRAY GOES TO IL

Twins RHP Sonny Gray went on the injured list with a strained right hamstring that occurred during a start Sept. 2 against the White Sox. He threw just 44 pitches before a recurrence of the hamstring issues that he had in April.

“I don’t see him pitching if we’re not in it,” Baldelli said, “but he’s going to stay mentally ready.”

RHP Trevor Megill was reinstated from the COVID-19 list and RHP Dereck Rodriguez was outrighted off the 40-man roster.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals RHP Taylor Clarke (oblique strain) threw about 15 pitches in a live session Tuesday. He’s scheduled to throw again on Friday in the hopes of rejoining the club before the season ends.

UP NEXT

Twins RHP Bailey Ober (1-2, 3.49 ERA) starts Wednesday night against Royals LHP Daniel Lynch (4-11, 5.15).

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.