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Royals close in on World Series after hit parade

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Zobrist, Royals looking to close out in Game 5 (1:06)

Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist talks to ESPN's Britt McHenry after hitting a two-run homer in Kansas City's Game 4 win, looking to advance to the World Series with a Game 5 win Wednesday. (1:06)

TORONTO -- The Kansas City Royals turned the tables on their hosts Tuesday, playing more like the Toronto Blue Jays in a 14-2 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

A pair of home runs in the first two innings started a 15-hit offensive outburst that moved the Royals one game away from advancing to their second consecutive World Series. Kansas City took a 3-1 lead in the ALCS, with Game 5 set for Wednesday at Toronto.

Two batters into the game, Ben Zobrist hit a two-run home as the Royals were off and running against Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey. After a four-run first inning, Alex Rios added a solo shot in the second inning.

Chris Young, who had not started since Oct. 2, gave the Royals 4⅔ innings, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts. A fresh Royals bullpen, thanks to Kris Medlen's five innings Monday, delivered 4⅓ scoreless innings the rest of the way.

The Blue Jays raised the surrender flag in the ninth inning when infielder Cliff Pennington came on to pitch. No other player who was exclusively a position player had ever pitched in a playoff game.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, teams with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven postseason series advance 85 percent of the time. They are 67-12 in those instances.

The Royals have now won for the fifth time in their past six games in this postseason, although they won for just the second time in their past six postseason road games.

Thumbs up: Rios, the former Blue Jay, has taken some grief from the fans in Toronto, but it appears to have only inspired him. He was the only Royals player with a hit off of each of the first three Blue Jays pitchers Tuesday. Rios played in Toronto from 2004-09 and was a two-time All-Star during his days in Canada.

Thumbs down: Hard to fault anybody on a club that has moved one victory away from the World Series. Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas were the only Royals starters without a hit, but Moustakas brought home a run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. It was Morales’ home run late in Monday’s defeat that seemed to show that while the Royals were getting beat up in Game 3, they weren’t demoralized.

Up next: The Royals will turn to Edinson Volquez in Game 5, their first of three potential chances to earn a spot in a second consecutive World Series. It will be the right-hander’s second start of the ALCS after he was dominating in Game 1, delivering six scoreless innings of two-hit baseball. “You've got to put that game in the past and you've got to move forward,” Volquez said.