SAN DIEGO -- The indignities never ceased. At last, a drive soared off the bat of San Diego Padres outfielder Will Venable, a crushing blow off Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Collins in a 6-5 walk-off loss in 12 innings.
The defeat deepened the malaise wrought after a harrowing weekend at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals (14-17) have now lost five games in a row, and Monday represented the most painful defeat of the bunch.
Their starter surrendered a three-run lead. Their closer blew his first save of the season. The offense was mostly stagnant. They put the go-ahead run at third in the 11th, and came up empty. They took the lead in the 12th and gave it right back.
Louis Coleman allowed a lead-off single to start the final frame. In came Collins. He yielded a bloop double that put two men in scoring position. Venable brought them both home.
Greg Holland made one mistake, a belt-high, 95-mph fastball. Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko sent the heater screaming into the left-field seats to tie the game. His drive erased the good cheer wrought by Eric Hosmer's go-ahead, seventh-inning homer, his first of the season.
Yordano Ventura set a career-high with 10 strikeouts across six mostly spotless frames. He also collected the first hit of his career to spark a fifth-inning rally. But he blew a three-run lead when Yasmani Grandal boomed a game-tying home run in the sixth.
The Royals arrived in San Diego on their worst losing skid of the season. Detroit bulldozed them over the weekend at Kauffman Stadium. The outcome on Sunday provoked post-game frustration, but the tension dissipated by the time the team gathered at Petco Park on Monday.
"Sometimes you're going to get your teeth kicked in in a weekend series," James Shields said, with a shrug.
To arrest their decline, the team turned to Ventura. At times in his rookie season he has looked unsettled, distracted by runners on base and prone to youthful indiscretions. At other times, he looks on the verge of dominance. He struck out seven Astros for his first big-league win; he logged eight scoreless frames against Baltimore.
On Monday the setting was ideal for him. His opponents were far less fierce than the Tigers. If the Royals lineup has been disappointing, the Padres have been dreadful. San Diego entered Monday's game ranked last in the majors in runs and last in on-base plus slugging percentage.
Ventura toyed with his hosts for five innings. He racked up strikeouts, zipping his fastball for strikes and finishing at-bats with off-speed pitches. But he faltered in the sixth. With two on and one out, Grandal tipped a 1-2 changeup. Catcher Salvador Perez stabbed at the ball with his glove but could not corral it. Grandal parked Ventura's next pitch in the right-field seats to tie the game.
The visit to a National League park cost the Royals their hottest hitter. Maligned for his horrific April, Butler roared into May, batting .381 on the most recent homestand with a 1.010 on-base plus slugging percentage. But manager Ned Yost relegated him to the bench and stuck with Hosmer at first base.
The lack of power persists as problematic. The second inning on Monday laid the problem bare. The Royals raked four hits off Stults. They scored just one run. The first hit was the most damaging. Salvador Perez swatted a sinking liner which left fielder Seth Smith played into a double. Two batters later, Danny Valencia ripped an RBI single. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain each cracked singles of their own to load the bases. But Ventura struck out and Nori Aoki grounded out. The rally fizzled.
In the fourth, Escobar and Cain again produced singles, but Escobar was thrown out trying to go from first to third. The offensive load fell on Ventura's shoulders. The pitching staff ordered bats at the start of spring training. Unsure if he would make the club, Ventura never placed an order. For Monday he borrowed one of Shields' bats, a Marucci model designed for Robinson Cano. In his second at-bat, Ventura cracked an 85-mph fastball into left. Aoki followed with a single of his own, and Hosmer threaded another base hit up the middle to score both runners.
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