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Kotchman's HR in ninth lifts Rays over Royals

Aug 9, 2011 - 2:53 AM St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Casey Kotchman led off the bottom of the ninth with a homer, lifting the Tampa Bay Rays over the Kansas City Royals, 2-1, in the opener of a four-game series.

Blake Wood (5-1) threw a first-pitch fastball to Kotchman, who crushed the ball over the wall in center.

Kotchman went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Rays, who snapped a brief two-game skid.

"How about Casey?" Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Those balls were properly struck. Kotch has been hitting like that all year. It's fun to watch."

Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson gave up one run on six hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Kyle Farnsworth (4-1) tossed a perfect ninth to pick up the win.

Eric Hosmer drove in the lone run for the Royals, who have lost three of four.

Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar allowed one run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two.

The Royals got on the board in the first inning. Alex Gordon started things with a double to left-center field. Melky Cabrera followed with a single to right to put men on the corners. Two batters later, Hosmer hit an RBI single to left. That left men on first and second, but Hellickson struck out Jeff Francoeur and Johnny Giavotella to limit the damage.

Tampa Bay's only chance to score early on came in the second. Kotchman and B.J. Upton hit consecutive one-out singles to put men on first and second. Hochevar struck out the next two batters to keep it a 1-0 game.

Kansas City stranded men in scoring position in the third, fifth and sixth.

The Rays finally got to Hochevar in the seventh. Ben Zobrist worked a one-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Kotchman's base hit up the middle. Matt Joyce was intentionally walked to put men on first and second with two outs. Hochevar kept it a tie game by getting Robinson Chirinos to pop out to first.

The Royals wasted a great scoring opportunity in the eighth. Billy Butler and Hosmer worked one-out walks. Joel Peralta took over for Hellickson to face Francoeur, who broke his bat on a liner to third. Evan Longoria made a nice catch on the play and threw to first to try for the double play. A bad throw allowed the runners to move to second and third. Giavotella flied out to end the inning.

Tampa Bay also stranded runners on second and third in the home half of the frame. Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon had one-out walks off Aaron Crow. The runners advanced a base on Longoria's groundout, but Zobrist struck out swinging.

Game Notes

Kansas City took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year...The Royals started a seven-game road trip on Monday...Kotchman extended his hitting streak to eight games...Kansas City went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight, while Tampa Bay went 1-for-7 with RISP and left six men on...Each team had six hits.