BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas homered in the 10th inning to give the late-striking Kansas City Royals an 8-6 win in the opening game of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series on Friday.
Kansas City, appearing in the post-season for the first time in 29 years, drew first blood in the series with their fourth extra-inning win in five playoff games.
Gordon, who also contributed a three-run double in the third inning and was hit in the neck with a fastball in the eighth, went 3-for-4 with four runs batted to lead the wild card Royals.
The Royals, who belted the fewest home runs in Major League Baseball during the regular season, blasted three homers including a solo shot from Alcides Escobar for the game’s first run in the third.
“It seems like whenever we get to extra innings we hit home runs, so it’s a good thing,” the 30-year-old Gordon told reporters of their dramatic wins.
“I’m getting gray hair already. We just keep grinding away. We have a good mentality on this team, never give up.”
The All-Star left-fielder, who also made a diving catch to save a run for Kansas City, led off the 10th by crushing a high fastball from Darren O’Day to snap a 5-5 tie.
O’Day, who had rescued the Orioles by getting Billy Butler to hit into a bases-loaded double-play in the ninth, gave way to Brian Matusz who yielded a two-run blast by Moustakas.
Baltimore scored a run in the bottom of the 10th off Royals closer Greg Holland and brought the winning run to the plate with men on first and second, but the reliever got Nick Markakis to ground out to end the lively four and a half hour game.
“It was a good ball game, except the Orioles didn’t win,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore, who trailed 4-0 and 5-1, caught the Royals with three runs in the fifth and another run in the sixth.
An RBI double by Nelson Cruz and a two-out, two-run single by Ryan Flaherty sparked the fifth-inning outburst.
Baltimore scored an odd run in the sixth to tie it, when Royals catcher Salvador Perez appeared to have Jonathan Schoop picked off second base only to have the runner dash for third.
Shortstop Escobar’s throw to third hit Schoop in the back allowing him to reach the base. Alejandro De Aza followed with a soft blooper that dropped behind the mound for a game-tying single.
It remained 5-5 until the 10th, when the Royals produced more extra-time magic.
Unbeaten in the playoffs so far, Kansas City became the first team to win four extra-inning games in a post-season.
“It’s just one of those things in baseball,” Moustakas said. “It’s kind of crazy.”
Royals manager Ned Yost explained: “We just find ways to win ball games. Sometimes it’s hitting home runs, sometimes it’s stealing bases and manufacturing runs. Most of the time it’s with good pitching and defense.
“These guys will find a way to get it done.”
Game Two of the series is in Baltimore on Saturday.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by John O'Brien