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The Grand Slam: Royals win again, open up three-game lead in AL Central

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The Kansas City Royals are on a remarkable roll and they aren't slowing down for anybody. With their 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, the Royals have now won 24 of their last 30 games, and have opened up a season-high three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Oh, and don't look now, but they also moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Baltimore Orioles for the No. 2 seed in the American League.

Kansas City hosting a playoff series at Kauffman Stadium? It could happen.

As for Saturday, the Royals rode the right arm of Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed just one run over eight innings. That run actually came on his very first pitch as Shin-Soo Choo greeted him with a home run. After that, Guthrie allowed just four more hits (all singles) and one walk, en route to evening his record at 10-10.

''The first pitch was actually a pretty good pitch,'' manager Ned Yost said. ''It was a fastball that was down. You're trying to get ahead with the first pitch of the game.''

Who are we to argue based on the end result? 

The first three batters in Kansas City's order — Jarrod Dyson, Omar Infante and Alex Gordon — combined to drive in all six runs, including Gordon's solo homer in the first. Dyson put the Royals ahead for good with a bases loaded walk in the fourth.


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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Before their game even started, it was a special day at Yankee Stadium on Saturday as New York honored former manager Joe Torre and officially added his No. 6 to their list of retired uniforms. But the good feelings didn't end there. Needing a victory to stay afloat in the division and wild-card standings, the Yankees tallied two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth to notch a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Returning to the lineup after missing three days with reoccurring soreness in his right elbow, Carlos Beltran delivered one of the game's key blows, a solo home run leading off the sixth. A sure sign that his elbow is at least feeling better.

''It's just an issue that I have there,'' Beltran said about his elbow. ''What is important is just being able to come to the ballpark every day and find a way to be in the lineup. ... I'm just thinking about winning ballgames.''

But wait, there's actually more good news. Prior to all of the festivities, Masahiro Tanaka faced lived batters for the first time since being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL on July 11. Tanaka tossed 35 pitches, including offspeed pitches, and reported no issues. The team will wait to see how he feels on Sunday before making their next decision, but it's looking more and more like a return this season is possible.

PIRATES SURGING IN MILWAUKEE: Miller Park has not been kind to the Pittsburgh Pirates historically. However, they might be turning the tide a bit this weekend against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. After winning the opener Friday night behind five RBIs from Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh came right back on Saturday and demolished Milwaukee 10-2, moving them to within four games of the division lead. 

Pedro Alvarez — who led the National League in home runs in 2013 with 36, but hadn't homered since July 11 — finally broke loose, connecting for a pair of roundtrippers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta. His three-run shot in the fourth inning got Pittsburgh on the board and gave them a lead. His second was a solo shot in the fifth that capped a five-run rally.

Russell Martin added a three-run homer of his own that frame, while Neil Walker racked up three separate run-scoring hits. Needless to say, it was a good night for Pittsburgh's offense, and a good night to be Edinson Volquez, who notched his 11th win after 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball,


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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies have had few bright spots, but it would appear they've found a keeper in Corey Dickerson. The 25-year-old outfielder has seen increased playing time thanks to injuries to Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, and he's made the most of it, hitting .318 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs.

It would also appear Dickerson has a flair for the dramatic, and or at least a knack for revenge, because he not only tied Saturday night's game against the Miami Marlins with an upper deck home run in the ninth inning, he also won it in the 13th with an RBI single. 

''Last night, bases loaded, same guy and I swung first pitch on a sinker and grounded out,'' Dickerson said. ''I kind of wanted to see a pitch and I wanted to get a pitch up. He threw a ball down like last night, and I think he hung a changeup or a slider up and in.''

Dickerson is referring to Marlins closer Steve Cishek. Cishek won the battle on Friday, but Dickerson triumphed in a big way on Saturday, hitting one of the longest home runs Walt Weiss can recall seeing at Coors Field. 

''It's one of the longer ones I've seen here,'' Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ''I've seen a few go into that upper deck but he hit that ball a long way. He can hit. It's well documented.'

If it wasn't before, it's documented now. Dickerson finished Colorado's 6-5 win with four hits overall.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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