Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Royals had been having such a hard time scoring runs lately that they decided to wait for the Milwaukee Brewers to help them out Wednesday night.
The Brewers’ bullpen not-so-happily obliged.
Mike Moustakas walked with the bases loaded in the 11th inning — the second walk issued by the Milwaukee relief corps — to give the Royals a come-from-behind 4-3 victory and a chance to wrap up their first home sweep of the season in Thursday night’s series finale.
“We’ve been really focusing on our approach, a relaxed approach, and it showed,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team hadn’t scored more than two runs in a victory this month.
The Royals scored that many in the ninth inning alone off John Axford.
The Brewers’ closer walked Eric Hosmer with one out and issued a free pass to Moustakas with two outs before Alcides Escobar lined a triple into the gap in left to force extra innings.
The game remained tied until the 11th when Billy Butler singled off Kameron Loe (2-2) to start the inning. Hosmer drew another walk before Jeff Francoeur ripped a single to left.
Royals third base coach Eddie Rodriguez threw up the stop sign on the lumbering Butler as he rounded third base, leaving them loaded for Moustakas, who walked on five pitches from Jose Veras.
“There’s just so much baseball to be played,” Moustakas said. “You play nine innings and every out matters. We always feel we have a chance.”
Tim Collins (3-0) worked around a walk of his own in the 11th to earn the win.
“Our lineup is good enough that no one has to be the guy,” Hosmer said. “If they’re not pitching to you, let the next guy do it, and we did a good job of that tonight.”
Axford’s disastrous ninth inning spoiled a sublime outing by veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, who went seven innings in his best start of the year for Milwaukee.
Wolf had been miserable on the road coming into the game, going 1-2 with an 8.28 ERA in five previous starts. But the 35-year-old veteran managed to keep the Royals off balance, giving up only six hits and two walks before leaving with a 2-1 lead.
“It’s too bad for him,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, “because he’s thrown the ball well the last two games and hasn’t come out with a win.”
Francisco Rodriguez survived a shaky eighth inning and Milwaukee added a run in the ninth, turning a two-run lead over to Axford, who had saved 10 of his 11 chances this season.
“I blew it,” he said simply. “You work to get those opportunities, and you want to make the most of them. Hopefully I’ll get another shot tomorrow night.”
Jonathan Sanchez pitched five effective innings for Kansas City in his first start off the disabled list. The left-hander showed no lingering effects of the biceps tendinitis that had kept him out since May 7, allowing only one run, seven hits and two walks.
The run he allowed came in the third inning, when Edwin Maysonet reached on a dribbler toward third base. Milwaukee played small ball to perfection with consecutive bunt singles by Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez that loaded the bases for Aramis Ramirez. His single tied the game.
Sanchez worked around two walks the next inning, and left a runner stranded on third base in the fifth, exiting after throwing 64 of 96 pitches for strikes.
“There was a number of things I was pleased with. I was very impressed with Sanchez,” Yost said. “He threw the ball extremely well, and I thought he competed extremely well.”
The biggest problem for Sanchez was that Wolf was just as good.
The wily veteran gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon — who homered and then scored the go-ahead run Tuesday night — and then allowed him to score on groundouts by Yuniesky Betancourt and Butler later in the first inning.
That was the only run Kansas City scored until the ninth.
“That’s a bad ballgame to lose right there,” Roenicke said.