KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals hung around long enough to watch Brewers ace Corbin Burnes head for the showers.
Then they pounced on the Milwaukee bullpen.
Jorge Soler hit a slump-busting homer to tie the game, Nicky Lopez bunted home the go-ahead run, and the Kansas City Royals used a late rally to squeak past the Brewers 6-4 on Wednesday night to wrap up a two-game sweep — their first series win over Milwaukee since June 2015.
Scott Barlow (2-1) got the final two outs of the seventh inning, Greg Holland worked the eighth and Josh Staumont coughed up a run in the ninth before striking out Omar Narvaez looking with two runners aboard for his fifth save.
“You’re going to have these days when you’re facing pitchers like we faced yesterday and Burnes today. Those guys have good stuff,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “They’re not going to give up much.”
The Royals managed just two hits off Burnes when his pitch count caused him to leave leading 3-2 after six innings. Soler was the first batter of the seventh and promptly hammered J.P. Feyereisen’s second pitch to end his 0-for-12 skid.
Feyereisen (0-2) then gave up Kelvin Gutierrez’s single and walked Michael Taylor. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, and Lopez turned an attempted squeeze play into a bunt single that allowed pinch runner Jarrod Dyson to score easily.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “With a one-run lead, that’s not much margin for error.”
The Royals added two more runs off Brad Boxberger in the eighth before their own bullpen finished things off.
“We just keep picking up each other,” Royals starter Brad Keller said. “We’re clicking as a team again.”
Taylor hit a two-run homer in the second inning and robbed Jackie Bradley Jr. of a home run with a spectacular leaping catch in the sixth. The Brewers still scored on the sacrifice fly, but Taylor’s catch saved a run and kept Kansas City within 3-2.
Bradley homered off Keller earlier in the game to end his own 0-for-22 slump.
Milwaukee is just 4-12 after a 17-10 start to the season.
“That’s baseball,” Burnes said. “We got off to a hot start early; we’ve scuffled a little bit. They made a couple of good swings tonight and it got away from us. We’re in a good spot as a team. All it’s going to take is one game for everything to line up.”
Steady drizzle predicted all afternoon began in the third, then the rain picked up in the top of the fourth, and for a while it looked as if it would be a race to play enough innings to call the game official.
The showers briefly subsided, though, and Burnes and Keller kept dueling. Burnes baffled the Royals with his darting 85 mph curveball and searing 95 mph cutter while Keller kept getting the Brewers to chop into groundouts.
Keller was lifted with a runner on third and one out in the sixth. Bradley promptly tagged Jake Brentz with a deep fly ball that, despite Taylor’s catch at the top of the wall, allowed Avisail Garcia to tag up with the go-ahead run.
Burnes was pulled after six innings, and Soler’s homer and Lopez’s go-ahead bunt rendered moot his latest dazzling start. He allowed just two hits over six innings, and while Burnes walked his second batter of the season, he also struck out nine to join the Indians’ Shane Bieber with at least that many Ks in each of his first seven starts.
Pedro Martinez has the major league record with at least nine strikeouts in his first nine starts for Boston in 1999.
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich (back) played his second game at designated hitter after returning from a long IL stay. He was 0-for-2 with three walks.
“He’s fine. Haven’t had any trainer conversations or anything,” Counsell said.
The Brewers gave struggling shortstop Luis Urias a break from the lineup after making four errors in the past two games. One on a throw to first base in the eighth inning Tuesday night allowed Kansas City to add an insurance run in its 2-0 win.
“He’s in a little bit of a mental slump, not a physical slump,” said Counsell, who used Pablo Reyes at shortstop Wednesday night. “Those are a little bit trickier to fix or understand how to help him, but we’re doing our best.”
Milwaukee has Thursday off before right-hander Adrian Houser (3-4, 3.63 ERA) takes the mound for Milwaukee to open a three-game series Friday night in Cincinnati.
Watch now: 5 of the Brewers' most eye-popping defensive plays so far this season
April 1: Luis Urias' debut
The Brewers wanted to see what Luis Urias could do at shortstop this season and he didn't make them wait long to find out. Three pitches into the first inning of the season, Urias made a leaping grab to rob Twins leadoff hitter Luis Arraez of a base hit.
Urias, 23, was expected to share time at shortstop with Orlando Arcia, but now the job is his after the Brewers dealt Arcia to Atlanta for a pair of right-handed pitchers.
"He has earned this and it's an important time for him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's going to get a great opportunity here."
April 6: Kolten Wong's double play
Kolten Wong's two Gold Glove Awards were a primary reason the Brewers signed him to a two-year, $18 million contract ahead of Spring Training and while he hasn't made much of an impact at the plate, his defense has already lived up to expectations.
Wong put his elite glove work on display late in the April 6 game against the Cubs. The Brewers led, 4-0, when Brad Boxberger drilled Cubs catcher Willson Contreras to lead off the ninth. With left-handed hitting Anthony Rizzo up, Milwaukee's infield went into a full shift with Wong lined a up a few steps over and behind first baseman Travis Shaw — perfectly positioned to scoop up Rizzo's grounder.
But instead of just tossing to Shaw for the easy out, Wong was able to turn around, get a throw off to third baseman Daniel Robertson who charged the bag for the force then got the relay to first in time to retire Rizzo.
At first glance, the play looked to be a routine double play, but Counsell said Wong's skill disguised its difficulty.
"It’s a hard play that he made look very easy, that’s the best way I can describe it," Counsell said. "The degree of difficulty was much more than Kolten made it seem. That’s what great defenders do: they make hard plays look fairly routine.
"Once he put it in his glove, the double play looked fairly routine."
April 7: Avisail Garcia saves the shutout
Brandon Woodruff's no-hit bid had just been spoiled by an Ian Happ single and the Cubs were threatening to break a scoreless tie when Kris Bryant sent a 3-2 fastball to shallow right field.
Avisail Garcia charged, slid and hauled it in to rob Bryant of a single, snuff out a potential rally and close out a sparkling effort for Woodruff.
"Honestly, when Bryant hit that I did not think that there was going to be a shot to catch it," Woodruff said. "Then the ball just kind of hung up there at the last second and he kind of closed in on it and made a heck of a catch. That was huge."
It turned out to be even bigger when Lorenzo Cain hit the first of his two go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning as the Brewers clinched the series with a 4-1, 10-inning victory.
April 10: Travis Shaw's diving stop
Most of the discussion when Shaw returned to the Brewers on a minor league deal this spring focused on his bat, and while he's been one of the team's best offensive performers so far, he's also provided steady defense at third base.
Shaw made a number of important plays April 10 against the Cardinals, including a diving stop to rob Austin Dean of a game-tying single with two out in the fourth inning and a nice backhanded grab to start a double play later in the game.
"Just play after play," Counsell said. "He had a big day and impacted the game in many ways."
April 10: Jackie Bradley Jr. robs Justin Williams
Moments after Dean cut the Brewers' lead to four with a three-run homer in the eighth off Josh Lindblom, Jackie Bradley Jr. charged to the wall in center to pull back what would have been a solo home run by Justin Williams for the first out of the inning.
"Jackie hasn’t gotten hot with the bat yet but I think he’s shown us defensively why he’s got such a great reputation," Counsell said.