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TEX@KC: Hosmer homers to tie the game in the ninth

KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Danny Duffy's coming-out party for the Royals ended with the Texas Rangers doing the celebrating.

Utilizing a control breakdown by Royals reliever Jeremy Jeffress, the Rangers won in 11 innings, 5-4, on Wednesday night in front of 13,789 fans at Kauffman Stadium. It was the fifth straight loss for the Royals and negated a dramatic home run by rookie Eric Hosmer.

"It was frustrating all night. We walked 13 guys and four of them scored," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That doesn't ever help your cause, but the kids battled all night long."

Jeffress walked three batters in the 11th to load the bases with one out and Adrian Beltre lined a two-run single into center field. Fellow rookie Everett Teaford replaced Jeffress and got an inning-ending double play, but the damage was done.

The hard-throwing Jeffress said he could feel he wasn't finishing off his pitches.

"I've just got to go right at 'em," he said. "I'm not thinking about too much stuff out there -- just go right at 'em."

But his pitches didn't go right at 'em this time and he walked Endy Chavez, Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis.

"He's got great stuff, but struggles at times to contain to where he can bang strikes," Yost said.

After two outs, the Royals came back in their half of the 11th with a run as Wilson Betemit got a four-pitch walk from reliever Mark Lowe, took second base and scored on Brayan Pena's single to center. But Lowe ended it by throwing a third strike past Chris Getz.

The Royals were within three outs of a 3-2 loss but Hosmer, the precocious left-handed slugger, belted the first pitch by Rangers closer Neftali Feliz over the right-field wall for a 3-3 tie. It was Hosmer's third home run and took closer Joakim Soria, who gave up a ninth-inning run, off the hook.

The blast ended a string of 19 consecutive saves for Feliz and was the first homer he's given up this year.

"Knowing he's a guy that throws a little harder, I wanted to jump on his fastball early," Hosmer said. "I knew he was going to try to get that first one over and get ahead and I just got the barrel out. I saw it go up and I wasn't sure it was going to out or not but, fortunately enough, it did."

Just about three rows into the right-field seats.

"He absolutely crushed it," Yost said.

Feliz subsequently walked both Jeff Francoeur and Billy Butler, but also managed to pick off both pinch-runners, Jarrod Dyson and then Mike Aviles, at first base to douse the potential fun.

Duffy's Major League debut began with a 96-mph called strike one on Chavez and ended with a 90-mph ball four on Kinsler. In between, in the course of four-plus innings, came two runs by the Rangers while the left-handed prodigy gave up four hits and walked six batters.

"I was amped, I was really excited," Duffy said. "It was fun but what we've got to do is win. I know I kept us in there tonight, but I want to get us over the top next time."

Duffy, after his walk to Kinsler opened the fifth, was removed from the game and walked off the mound to the sound of a standing ovation. He'd kept the Royals in a 2-2 tie with the first-place Rangers and, after all, he was the vanguard of the young starting pitchers that are supposed to infiltrate the rotation in the weeks, months and years to come.

"I thought he threw the ball great," Yost said. "His pitch count got way up but stuff-wise, he was very impressive and very encouraging."

After Chavez and Andres Blanco, both ex-Royals, began Duffy's day with two singles, the lefty induced a double-play grounder from Kinsler, walked Michael Young and got Beltre to pop out. So went the first inning of his big league career and it took him 25 pitches to get through it.

"Those first two hitters slapped the ball. They hit good pitches, but I'd rather give up hits when I'm going after people rather than just biting and nibbling," Duffy said.

In the second inning, he demonstrated his strikeout skills -- he had 43 in 36 innings for Triple-A Omaha -- by whiffing the side.

His new teammates got him a 2-0 lead in the second after the Rangers' undefeated right-hander, Alexi Ogando, got two quick outs. Betemit singled, Matt Treanor walked and Getz and Alcides Escobar each followed with RBI singles.

The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the third inning, but emerged with just one run. They got another run in the fourth, capitalizing on Duffy's errant control. Two walks plus a double steal and Duffy's wild pitch into the dirt did the job.

When the totals were in, Duffy had thrown 94 pitches including 54 strikes. His fellow rookies followed -- Louis Coleman finished a scoreless fifth, Tim Collins worked two perfect innings and Aaron Crow turned in a scoreless eighth.

Soria, working on his 27th birthday, yielded a run in the ninth as the Rangers' No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry walked, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on pinch-hitter Elvis Andrus' single to center. That gave the Rangers a short-lived 3-2 lead. Before the game was over, the Royals had used their entire bullpen of seven pitchers.

On this night, though, the main focus was on their prodigy starting pitcher, the 22-year-old Duffy. There were some flaws. Too many pitches, obviously, and too many walks. And he needs to hold runners on base better and be a bit quicker to the plate.

Yost, however, was ecstatic about what he saw in his newest addition.

"I more than liked the stuff, I loved the stuff," he said. Comments