Last place Rangers sweep Royals, Kansas City bottom of division

Picture of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador blowing a bubble gum bubble

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez stands during the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Kansas City Royals continue a downward spiral, losing three straight to the Texas Rangers and tying for last place in the American League Central Division.

Rangers’ Joey Gallo homered, Jordan Lyles pitched seven strong innings after getting bumped from the rotation for one start, and Texas swept the series with a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

The last-place Rangers have won three consecutive games for the first time since sweeping Houston at home from May 21-23, which they followed with an 0-9 trip on the way to tying a franchise record with 16 straight road losses.

The Royals now have a winning percentage of .434. The Rangers are at .385.

Texas is headed on the road again this time, a six-game trip that starts Tuesday at Oakland. The Rangers had a 3-19 slide after the sweep of Houston but now have won five of seven.

“I’ve told this team many times, we’re obviously young, there’s obviously a lot of growth and development going on,” manager Chris Woodward said. “At the same time, we’re competitive. We want to win. What we went through before was kind of important for us to get through and come out the other side.”

Whit Merrifield had an RBI single among three hits as the Royals lost their fifth straight on a 10-game trip that matches their longest of the season. Kansas City is 4-17 since a five-game winning streak that put the club three games over .500.

“We’ve got to try to stay even keel through the ups and downs,” Merrifield said. “We seem to get really down when things don’t go well and really high when things go well. You can be really hard on yourself every day in this game when things aren’t going well.”

Gallo’s two-run shot to the opposite field in left — his 16th of season and third in two games — came right after Adolis García’s RBI triple in a three-run first inning against Brady Singer, whose throwing error allowed leadoff hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa to remain safe.

Kiner-Falefa, García and Gallo all reached after falling behind 0-2 against Singer (3-6). The right-hander responded with four scoreless innings, striking out five in five innings.

“Today it was self-induced trouble with an error and then 0-2 pitches,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Part of this is young pitchers learning tough lessons. I think really just a couple of mistakes and after that he threw the ball really well.”

Lyles (3-5) allowed seven hits — all singles — and a run with no walks and four strikeouts in his longest outing this year.

He was coming off a long relief stint on Tuesday in what would have been his day to start. Lyles allowed two runs in six innings after replacement Taylor Hearn couldn’t get out of the first inning.

Spencer Patton got Jorge Soler on an inning-ending double play in the eighth with two runners on, and Ian Kennedy struck out two in a seven-pitch ninth for his 13th save.

Kansas City matched a season high with three errors, two by third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez. His second miscue with two outs in the sixth allowed Eli White to score the second unearned run for Texas.

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