HOUSTON (AP) — Nelson Velázquez hit two home runs and Salvador Perez and Matt Duffy also homered as the Kansas City Royals built a big lead early and held on for a 6-5 win over the slumping Houston Astros Sunday.
The victory completed a three-game sweep and left Houston two games behind the Texas Rangers and tied with the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. Texas and Seattle were playing each other Sunday afternoon.
Houston finished 39-42 at Minute Maid Park, its first losing record at home since 2014.
Kansas City (54-102) has won six straight games and 10 of 11. The Royals raced to a 6-2 lead after tagging rookie Hunter Brown (11-13) for all four homers in just three innings.
Yordan Alvarez hit a solo homer to cut the lead to one run in the fifth. But the defending World Series champions couldn’t do anything after that on a day they went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and lost for the fifth time in six games.
Chas McCormick doubled with one out in the eighth inning, but Carlos Hernandez retired the next two batters to leave him stranded.
James McArthur gave up a single to Jose Altuve with one out in the ninth, but he retired Alex Bregman and Alvarez to end it and get his third save.
Steven Cruz opened the game for the Royals and allowed three hits and run in an inning before Alec Marsh (3-8) took over. He allowed three hits and four runs — three earned — with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for the win.
It’s the fifth win in a row for the 102-loss Royals, who took five of six from the Astros this season.
Altuve hit a leadoff single and moved to third on a one-out single by Alvarez. The Astros took a 1-0 lead when Altuve scored on a single by Jose Abreu with two outs.
The Royals tied it on a homer to right field by Velazquez to start the second. Nick Loftin singled before Duffy put Kansas City up 3-1 with his shot to the seats in left field with one out in the inning.
Yainer Diaz and Mauricio Dubón hit back-to-back singles with no outs in the second.
Jeremy Peña moved them both over one with a sacrifice bunt.
Houston cut the lead to 3-2 when Diaz scored on a groundout by Altuve.
Bobby Witt Jr. walked to open the third inning before Perez homered on a soaring shot that bounced off the wall in left field to make it 5-2. Five pitches later, Velazquez connected on his second home run of the game to push the lead to 6-2.
Marsh plunked Alvarez with not outs in the third before Kyle Tucker reached on catcher’s interference. Abreu walked to load the bases before Alvarez scored when McCormick grounded into a force out that left Abreu out at second.
The Astros cut the lead to two runs when Tucker scored on a groundout by Diaz before Dubón grounded out to end the inning.
Royals: Perez was activated from the injured list after sitting out since sustaining a mild concussion Sept. 16. … C Tyler Cropley was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to make room for him on the roster.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley missed a sixth straight game Sunday with right shoulder soreness. But he took batting practice on the field before the game and could return as soon as Monday.
Royals: Kansas City is off Monday before opening a three-game series at Detroit Tuesday night when RHP Zack Greinke (1-15, 5.37 ERA) opposes RHP Reese Olson (5-7, 4.13).
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.44) opposes Seattle RHP Luis Castillo (14-7, 3.06) in the opener of a three-game series against the Mariners Monday night.
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