BALTIMORE (Reuters) - The underdog Kansas City Royals took a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series when they scored two runs in the ninth inning for a 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
The Royals have set a postseason record with four extra-inning victories but did not wait past the ninth on Saturday as they snapped a 4-4 tie with an RBI-double by Alcides Escobar and an RBI-single by Lorenzo Cain off closer Zach Britton.
Cain once again stood out for the Royals, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI as well as making another pair of brilliant catches.
“He had a great day today, four hits, and made some great plays in the outfield,” Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters. “The country is seeing a very exciting player in Lorenzo Cain.”
Kansas City, a wild card team appearing in the postseason for the first time in 29 years, remained unbeaten in the playoffs and took control of the best-of-seven series to determine the American League team in the World Series.
“Everything’s going good right now but we’ve got to keep it going,” said Cain.
The series shifts to Kansas City for Game Three on Monday, with Game Four and Game Five, if needed, also to be played at Kauffman Stadium.
”I think we came into this series the underdog,“ Yost said. ”I don’t think they mind being underdogs because they have a lot of confidence in their abilities.
“They are playing their best baseball of the year right now and it’s sure the best time to play it.”
AL East champion Baltimore battled back from an early deficit to tie the score for the second successive game, but this time the Orioles squandered a golden opportunity to seize the upper hand.
With the game all square at 4-4, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against reliever Kelvin Herrera, but Steve Pearce flied out to shallow left and JJ Hardy was robbed of a hit by a running catch by Cain.
Runs were scored in every inning through the first five.
Kansas City jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first and Baltimore halved their advantage in the second.
The Royals made it 3-1 in the third, and the Orioles answered with a two-run blast by Adam Jones to tie it in the bottom of the third.
Mike Moustakas bashed his fourth home run of the postseason for a 4-3 Royals lead in the fourth, and Baltimore tied it again in the fifth.
While the Orioles bullpen faltered at the end, Kansas City’s trio of Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined for three shutout innings at the end.
“You got to win four games,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
There is no denying it will be an uphill climb if Baltimore are to get back into the series.
Teams winning the first two games of a league championship series have triumphed 21 of 24 times. Road teams winning the first two games, as the Royals have done, are 11-0.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Nick Mulvenney