Royals use 6-run eighth to snap seven-game slide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A seven-game slide dropped the Kansas City Royals from first place to last in the American League Central, all too familiar territory for a franchise that has finished at the bottom of the division the past four years.

John Buck and the Royals insist this is a different team, though.

The catcher had two doubles and drove in a pair of runs to help the Royals rally for an 8-4 victory Friday night over the Toronto Blue Jays, snapping the skid with the kind of come-from-behind win that might not have happened in years past.

"I can understand why a lot of people might feel a little gun shy after the last seven losses," Buck said. "This team has a lot of fight. We're not so young or shy anymore. We got in one of those ruts, where we weren't pitching and we weren't hitting. It was good to win that type of ball game. It was good to get a win coming-from-behind the way we've been struggling."

Buck's double in a six-run eighth inning scored pinch-runner Esteban German with the go-ahead run. Buck also doubled home Ross Gload in the fourth, snapping the Royals' 15-inning scoreless drought.

"One was on one line and one on another," Buck said of the doubles down each baseline. "I'll take them. It seems like I've been hitting the ball well, but it either goes to the track or right at somebody."

Zack Greinke, who has a 1.25 ERA in five starts, got a no-decision, although he left with a 2-1 lead after seven innings. Greinke held the Blue Jays to five hits while striking out four and walking one, but said it was most important that the Royals won.

"Once the [losing] streak gets pretty long, it gets more intense and there's a little more pressure on you," Greinke said. "I thought the eighth inning was really big for our team because we haven't had anything like that all year. It was just nice especially to get us out of a little funk. Hopefully, it creates momentum."

The eight runs were a season high for Kansas City, while the Blue Jays have lost a a season-high five straight.

"We're in a rut," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're rock bottom right now."

Blue Jays shortstop David Eckstein committed two errors, one of them in the eighth that led to two unearned runs. He dropped a throw from reliever Scott Downs that could have been an inning-ending double play and kept Toronto ahead 4-3.

"We got the ground ball we needed," Gibbons said. "We had the chance to turn a double play but couldn't get the out."

David DeJesus, who extended his hitting streak to eight games, drove in three runs, including two in the eighth. Billy Butler singled home Jose Guillen with the first run of the inning, in which the Royals sent 11 men to the plate.

"This shows what type of team we are," DeJesus said. "We've lost seven in a row and we could have bent over after that three run inning that they had. In the eighth inning, everyone did something right."

Toronto starter A.J. Burnett took a 4-2 lead into the inning, but was pulled with one out after giving up a run on two singles and a walk. Burnett (2-2) was charged with five runs, three earned, on eight hits and three walks, while striking out six.

Downs, who replaced Burnett, faced five batters and retired none, allowing three runs, three hits and a walk.

Scott Rolen, who was acquired in a January trade with St. Louis, was activated from the DL where he'd been working back from a fractured right middle finger. His two-out, two-run double in the eighth on the heels of Vernon Wells' RBI groundout put the Blue Jays up 4-2.

All three runs were off reliever Leo Nunez, the first he had allowed this season, but he picked up the win with the Royals' eighth-inning rally. In his first eight appearances, covering nine innings, Nunez (2-0) had yielded just three hits and struck out 10.

The Royals went on top in the fifth when Gload and Buck led off the inning with back-to-back doubles. Tony Pena Jr. put down a sacrifice bunt to move Buck to third, but the Royals failed to get him in.

Greinke had limited the Blue Jays to four hits the first six innings, but gave up a home run to Lyle Overbay on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the seventh that tied the score. Overbay's first home run since Aug. 30 just cleared the right-field wall.

Pena's intentional walk was the second of his career. ... Burnett's two balks were the first by the Blue Jays this year. The last Toronto pitcher to balk twice in a game was Chris Michalak on July 15, 2001, against the Mets.