KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals have been waiting to catch a few breaks. They got one Sunday.
“I was saying better lucky than good,” Merrifield said. “It just worked out for us today. The hop went our way.”
Merrifield hit a sharp, two-out grounder toward third baseman Giovanny Urshela with speedster Billy Hamilton at second. The ball skipped over the head of Urshela — considered a strong defender at the hot corner — giving Hamilton time to race home.
“I just pounded it right in the ground. It was a pretty poor swing, but I’ll take it,” Merrifield said.
Hamilton had walked against Jonathan Holder (3-2) and stolen second to set up the play.
Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler homered on back-to-back pitches in the fifth inning and Martin Maldonado and Ryan O’Hearn also went long as Kansas City hit four home runs in a game for the first time this season. All four had multihit games, with Dozier matching a career high with four hits.
New York’s Aaron Hicks tied it in the ninth with a two-run single off Ian Kennedy as the Yankees scored three runs, all with two outs, to make it 7-7.
Kevin McCarthy (2-1) threw a scoreless 10th to earn the win.
Kansas City once again hit around Domingo German, who leads the majors with nine wins. German gave up a career-high seven runs on nine hits in five innings.
“This is definitely a bad day for me today,” German said through a translator. “I couldn’t command my pitches today. I missed on location and that’s what happens when you miss on location.”
In 11 innings against Kansas City this season, German has given up 10 runs and six homers, taking losses in both games. The 26-year-old has allowed 16 runs and three homers in 49 1/3 innings in his 10 other appearances, nine starts.
“This guy, who’s every bit as good as anybody in the league, we’ve had two really, really good ball games with him and had him in line for another loss today,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Danny Duffy pitched six innings, allowing four runs, one earned, and five hits. A throwing error by shortstop Adalberto Mondesi extended the Yankees’ sixth inning, and Gleyber Torres hit a three-run shot to centre two batters later.
“I felt really bad about that. I got to pick up my boys,” Duffy said. “I got to do a better job of that and really bearing down when it matters most.”
After the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the second, Maldonado belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. O’Hearn added a solo shot in the fourth.
Nestor Cortes Jr. threw four shutout innings in relief of German.
“Coming into the game, we were down, I knew I had to eat up innings because the bullpen is a little shot and that’s exactly what I did,” Cortes said.
The Yankees have had their way with Kansas City in the 21st century. Despite Sunday’s loss, New York still captured the season series this year, winning five of seven games. The Yankees are 16-1-3 in season series against the Royals since 2000 and have won five straight. In that same timeframe, New York is 100-44 against Kansas City, its best record against any AL club.
Yankees: LHP James Paxton (left knee inflammation) took pitcher’s fielding practice and threw long toss Sunday and is likely to return to the rotation this week. … SS Didi Gregorius was the designated hitter for Class A Tampa, getting two hits, including a homer. … Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) will resume throwing bullpens either Monday or Tuesday. … OF Aaron Judge (left oblique) told the YES Network he hopes to begin swinging a bat this week. … RHP Jake Barrett was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 23, with right elbow inflammation.
Royals: Kansas City heads to Chicago for a three-game set with the White Sox. RHP Homer Bailey (4-5) starts Monday for the Royals against RHP Ivan Nova (3-4).
Yankees: New York returns home as the Padres travel to the Bronx. The Yankees haven’t announced a starter for the opener while LHP Matt Strahm (2-3) gets the ball for San Diego.