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CWS@KC: Escobar smashes two home runs in 6-3 win

KANSAS CITY -- Who would have thought this? Two home runs from the Royals' slender but obviously strong shortstop, Alcides Escobar.

That's exactly what happened as Escobar went deep twice to drive in three runs, including the go-ahead shot in the seventh inning, as the Royals beat the first-place Chicago White Sox, 6-3, on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Fittingly, the Venezuelan-born Escobar's big game came as the Royals and 24,998 fans marked the annual Viva Los Royals Night with music, salsa and, as it turned out, home runs.

"It's a Latin night tonight and it's good for the team, too, to win like this," he said.

It was the first two-home run game of Escobar's career and helped the Royals snap a four-game skid.

"He's just making himself look like an All-Star-caliber type player," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Escobar, continuing to establish himself as an offensive force, smacked a two-run homer in the third inning. He connected on a 0-1 pitch from White Sox starter Jake Peavy, driving the ball into the left-field bullpen. That culminated a three-run outburst that began when Jarrod Dyson singled to right, raced to second with his 17th stolen base and scored on Alex Gordon's single to right.

And, with two out in the seventh, Escobar teed off on Peavy's first pitch and again found the left-field bullpen with a solo shot to break a 3-3 tie. Not even in the Minor Leagues had he hit two homers in a game.

"That's my first time and I'm real happy because that's Jake Peavy, a pitcher who won the Cy Young, and so I'm real happy right now," Escobar said.

Escobar has four home runs, 27 RBIs and a .311 average that leads Major League shortstops, just ahead of Derek Jeter's .310 for the Yankees.

"I look at American League shortstops and you see Derek Jeter, but he's a different type player than Jeter," Yost said. "He's more in the Asdrubal Cabrera type player -- a little more rangy, a little stronger arm, can make more spectacular type plays and hit for an average. He's not going to be a home-run hitter per se, but I think he's got a chance to hit 10 home runs a year and hit .300."

While Escobar did a TV interview after the game, catcher Salvador Perez and Dyson grabbed a water cooler and doused him.

"They hit me on the head with that cooler," he said.

Easy, boys, that's a valuable player there.

"I just wasn't good enough," Peavy said. "The pitch there in the third to Escobar wasn't a bad pitch. It was just the wrong pitch. ... The pitch to him later in the game, there's no excuse for that. It was a sinker ... not much on it, not much action. It ran right into the barrel."

Peavy, who previously pitched four complete games this season, labored into the eighth inning and the Royals expanded the one-run lead by two. Consecutive singles by Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur produced one run and got Peavy out of the game.

Left-hander Hector Santiago relieved Peavy and, after Chris Getz sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Perez was intentionally walked to fill the bases. Pinch-hitter Lorenzo Cain lined out to left, scoring Moustakas after the catch for a 6-3 score.

"Jake Peavy's an All-Star and you could see why. He pitched to contact with very good stuff. His ball-to-strike ratio was very good. He took 'em into the eighth inning and he's a tremendous competitor out there," Yost said. "Escobar did the majority of damage against him, but we beat a real good pitcher tonight."

Royals starter Luke Hochevar was pulled quickly in the sixth inning by Yost shortly after giving up Adam Dunn's monster 451-foot home run that landed under the center-field scoreboard.

"It just got out, didn't it?" Hochevar asked jokingly. "I think he hit it over the scoreboard. Poorly executed pitch -- good night! He hit the 'far out' of that thing."

When Paul Konerko followed with a single, Yost brought in Aaron Crow, who got two outs but then gave up a run-scoring triple to Dayan Viciedo that forged a 3-3 tie.

"After the long home run by Dunn and the base hit by Konerko, I made a decision that we were going to bring in a fresh arm and see if we couldn't protect a one-run lead, and we couldn't do it at that point," Yost said. "But Esky got the lead back for us in the seventh."

After Escobar's second homer and the two-run eighth, Royals closer Jonathan Broxton trudged in and, uncharacteristically, worked a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.

The victory came after Friday night's tough, draining 9-8 loss in 14 innings when Broxton blew a save.

"Something like that last night, if you don't get something going the next day, it can start trickling over into days," Hochevar said. "But we forgot about it, went out there and battled against one of the better pitchers that's been pitching really well of late."

And the Royals' star of the game was Escobar, the guy that many believed should have joined Butler on the AL All-Star team.

"All year he's done it," Francoeur said. "He plays at a tough position to make an All-Star team, but we all knew in here he was very All-Star worthy."

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