by Steve Carney
The Royals turned what had been a strong performance by Jeremy Hellickson into a rough outing, as the scored eight runs in the sixth inning and never looked back, taking the first contest of the four-game series against the Rays 10-1 Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Both Hellickson and Ervin Santana matched each other nearly pitch for pitch through the first five innings, with Hellickson giving up just two hits, Santana just one. That all changed in the top of the sixth, as Elliot Johnson started the inning with a single, and moving to third base on a double by Alcides Escobar. Alex Gordon then broke the scoreless tie with a single to center, bringing in Johnson.
A wild pitch by Hellickson brought Escobar home to make it 2-0, and after Eric Hosmer flied out for the first out of the inning, Salvador Perez brought in Gordon to make it 3-0.
A single by Billy Butler put runners on the corners, and after Lorenzo Cain struck out for the second out of the inning, David Lough had an RBI single, and Miguel Tejada a run-scoring double before Johnson, batting for the second time in the frame, launched a three-run shot into the seats in right to cap the inning's scoring.
Tampa Bay got one back in their half of the sixth, as Jose Molina singled, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error by Tejada on a ground ball by Yunel Escobar.
Kansas City added a solo homer by Eric Hosmer in the seventh off Jake Odorizzi, and Lough set the score with an RBI single in the eighth.
Tampa Bay will look to right the ship Friday, as Matt moore (8-2, 3.78 ERA) takes on Luis Mendoza (1-3, 4.19 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10, with coverage on 620 WDAE starting at 6:00 with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch.