By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Robinson Cano finally hit a home run at Kauffman Stadium, Vernon Wells went deep for the second straight game and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Sunday to wrap up a three-game sweep.
Hiroki Kuroda (5-2) allowed only a sacrifice fly by the Royals’ Alex Gordon and an RBI groundout by Alcides Escobar over 7 2-3 innings. The right-hander at one point went 15 batters without allowing a hit to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions.
The Yankees, who began the day in sole possession of first place in the AL East by a game after having a lead on percentage points the day before, scored all their runs off Ervin Santana (3-2) to win their fifth straight game.
David Robertson retired Billy Butler to end the Royals’ eighth-inning rally, and Mariano Rivera worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to remain perfect in 15 save opportunities.
Rivera has converted his last 29 chances against the Royals dating to Aug. 18, 1998, his longest active streak against any team. His only other blown save against them happened in 1996.
Santana gave up Cano’s two-run shot in the third inning, Wells’ solo homer two pitches later and an RBI single by Wells in the fifth. He departed with one out in the sixth and with the Royals well on their way to their sixth loss in their last seven games.
It was the first time Kansas City had been swept this season.
Santana, who hadn’t lost since his season debut April 3 at the White Sox, began his career 5-1 against the Yankees. He’s now 0-6 in his last nine starts against them.
The Royals struck first when Jarrod Dyson doubled leading off the game. He advanced to third on a bunt by Escobar and then scored on Gordon’s sacrifice fly.
That was all they’d get off Kuroda until the eighth inning.
New York pulled ahead in the third when Chris Stewart singled and Cano pounded the first pitch he saw over the bullpen in right field. It was his sixth career homer off Santana, two more than the All-Star second baseman has had against any other pitcher.
It was especially gratifying given his history at the K.
Cano was the captain of the AL squad for last year’s Home Run Derby in Kansas City, and had said he would choose Butler for his team. But he went back on his word, and was booed lustily by the Royals’ home crowd while failing to hit a single home run himself.
The jeers continued during the All-Star game, and didn’t let up when the Yankees returned to town for their only visit this season _ at least, until Cano finally went deep.
Wells, who hit the go-ahead two-run homer on Saturday, followed with a solo shot, and then drove in Brett Gardner with a single down the third-base line in the fifth inning.
That was enough support for Kuroda, who came into the game 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in his career against the Royals. He gave up six hits and a walk, and didn’t allow a hit between Dyson’s leadoff and a single by Jeff Francoeur with two outs in the sixth inning.
NOTES: The Yankees put INF Eduardo Nunez on the 15-day DL, selected SS Alberto Gonzalez from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and put 1B Mark Teixeira on the 60-day DL. … Royals GM Dayton Moore and Hall of Famer George Brett honored Rivera prior to the game with a donation to the church where his wife, Clara, is the pastor. Rivera intends to retire after the season. … The Royals begin a three-game set Monday at the Angels with RHP Luis Mendoza on the mound. The Yankees head to Cleveland for a doubleheader and will put RHP David Phelps on the mound in Game 1 and LHP Vidal Nuno is set to pitch Game 2.
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