Gee, Escobar help Royals inch closer in wild card race

Gee, Escobar help Royals inch closer in wild card

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dillon Gee pitched six solid innings and Alcides Escobar hit a three-run homer as the Kansas City Royals held off the New York Yankees 8-5 Monday night to open a six-game homestand.

The Royals have won 18 of 22 to move within two games of the Baltimore Orioles for the second wildcard postseason spot. They play 21 of their final 31 games at Kauffman Stadium, where they are 41-21.

Gee (6-7) curbed the Yankees on four hits and one run, while walking one and striking out four to pick up the victory. He has won his past two home starts, allowing two runs over 13 innings.

Escobar homered off reliever Blake Parker in a five-run seventh with Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez aboard. Morales and Perez singled to begin the inning to chase Yankees starter Michael Pineda (6-11), who had retired 15 straight after allowing a RBI singles to Lorenzo Cain, Morales and Alex Gordon in a three-run first.

Escobar fell behind in the count 1-2 before driving a Parker splitter over the left-center fence. The Royals sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh, which also included two-out RBI singles by Cheslor Cuthbert and Eric Hosmer to put them up 8-1.

The Yankees answered with four runs in the eighth, which included a Didi Gregorius two-run double off Chris Young, who retired none of the four batters he faced. Starlin Castro contributed a sacrifice fly to score Gary Sanchez, who was hit by a Young pitch with two strikes. Chase Headley's infield single scored Gregorius with the final run.

The inning began with Jacoby Ellsbury reaching first on Drew Butera?s catcher's interference, which made two runs unearned.

Kelvin Herrera, who logged his 11th save in 13 chances, was summoned to retire pinch hitter Mark Teixeira on a ground ball to end the eighth.

Pineda was charged with five runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings to take the loss. He has allowed 22 earned runs in the first inning of his 26 starts, a 7.62 ERA.

Gee, held the Yankees to one hit -- Tyler Austin's fly-ball single to shallow center with two out in the third -- to the first dozen batters he faced. With two out in the fourth, Gee yielded back-to-back doubles to Gregorius and Castro for the first Yankees' run. Castro's laser struck the top of the Royals' bullpen fence, scoring Gregorius.

Gee pitched out of a treacherous situation in the fifth. After retiring the first two batters, Gee gave up a single to Austin and walked Ellsbury. Aaron Hicks ran the count full before flying out to Dyson in shallow center to end the inning with Sanchez standing in the on-deck circle.

NOTES: Yankees rookie C Gary Sanchez was named the American League player of the week for the second consecutive week. Sanchez hit .522 with a 1.304 OPS in six games last week with five home runs, three doubles, seven runs and nine RBIs. "I'm not really surprised at this point," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "What he's done in two weeks has been really special." ... CF Paulo Orlando, who is in a 3-for-38 slump (.079), was not in the Royals' lineup. Jarrod Dyson started in center. ... LHP Danny Duffy has 143 2/3 innings after throwing 144 2/3 innings last year during the regular season. His season high is 155 1/3 innings in 2014. Manager Ned Yost said there has been "no talk about limiting" Duffy's innings. ... Yankees 3B Chase Headley made only his second start since Aug. 22. ... Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka and Royals RHP Edinson Volquez are the Tuesday probables.

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