Kansas City, Mo. Great defensive plays are just as satisfying as game-winning home runs.
Take it from Terrence Long.
Kansas City's left fielder saved a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday night with a leaping catch near the warning track with two outs in the ninth inning. If the ball went over his head, a pinch-runner would have scored from first to tie the game, and the potential go-ahead run would have been standing on second, maybe third.
"Any time you can do anything to save the game, whether it's with your bat or your glove, you feel good about it," Long said.
His great catch enabled Mike Wood to get his first major-league save.
"When he hit it, I knew I had to just turn and go," said Long, who also singled and scored to help the Royals earn their 10th victory of the season. "It wasn't one of those where you can take a few steps back and get behind it. I just busted right off the bat. If I drift off the bat, I don't get it."
Jorge Cantu, who sent the line drive soaring into left, was pinch-hitting for Alex Sanchez and could only shrug.
"Late in the game, coming off the bench, it's not that easy," Cantu said. "You just have to give it your best effort, and that's what I did. If you make a great catch, you make a great catch. That's part of the game."
Emil Brown hit a go-ahead double in the eighth inning for the Royals (10-27), who won for only the fifth time in 23 games and improved to 2-2 under interim manager Bob Schaefer since Tony Pena suddenly resigned Tuesday night.
"Terrence Long made a tremendous catch," Schaefer said.
Schaefer had Wood replace Andrew Sisco after Alex Gonzalez singled to make it 6-5 with two outs.
"I brought Wood in to get a groundball and keep the ball in the park," Schaefer said. "It was scary."
The Royals, just 4-13 at home, were trailing 4-3 in the eighth when Tony Graffanino singled, and Matt Stairs drew a walk from Jesus Colome (1-1), his third of the night. Brown followed with a two-run double to left-center, putting Kansas City on top. Mark Teahen's RBI groundout made it 6-4.
Runelvys Hernandez (2-5) won for the first time in seven starts. The right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2003 and missed the 2004 season, went eight innings and gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks, with four strikeouts.
Tampa Bay starter Hideo Nomo went six innings and gave up three runs, four hits and five walks. He said through a translator he was feeling frustrated and did not think he had been throwing the ball well.
Julio Lugo had his first home run in 83 games to help the Devil Rays take a 4-3 lead.
The Royals loaded the bases on a walk and two singles in the second inning against Nomo, and John Buck drew a walk to force in one run. Another run scored on Mark Teahen's groundout, and Angel Berroa singled home a run.
Lugo's home run gave the Devil Rays a run in the first. Chris Singleton's two-run double keyed a three-run sixth. Nick Green had an RBI single just ahead of a double by Singleton that gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead.
The Devil Rays, who had given up an AL-high 48 homers going into the game, held an opponent homerless for the sixth straight game -- the first time they'd done that since Aug. 25-31, 1999.
"Nomo went six good innings," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He had a little problem with the walks in the second inning. He left with a lead and we just couldn't hold it."
Notes: The Devil Rays recalled RHP Seth McClung from Triple-A Durham and placed RHP Rob Bell on the 15-day disabled list. The team said Bell was placed on the DL for "personal and psychological reasons." ... The Royals placed RHP Denny Bautista on the 15-day DL with tendinitis in his right shoulder and recalled OF Matt Diaz from Triple-A Omaha. ... Royals 1B Mike Sweeney missed his third straight game with a strained muscle in his side. The Royals said he would probably be back on Tuesday.