by Steve Carney
For the third straight game, Tampa Bay Rays pitching suffered a mid-game hiccup, and it ended up costing them the game.
Kansas City put four runs across on Matt Moore in the fifth inning and didn't look back, defeating the Rays 7-2 Friday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Matt Joyce led off the inning with his 13th home run. Ben Zobrist then walked and came around to score two batters later on a double by Evan Longoria.
The contest remained that way until the fifth, as Jeff Francouer singled to start the inning and scored on a triple to left by Elliot Johnson, who had two more hits against his former team. Alcides Escobar then singled in Johnson to give Kansas City the lead for good.
Alex Gordon then flied out for the first out of the inning, but Eric Hosmer doubled Escobar to third base, and Salvador Perez singled the Kansas City shortstop in to make it 4-2, and Billy Butler's sacrifice fly capped the inning's scoring.
The Royals tacked on two more runs in the ninth against Fernando Rodney thanks to an RBI double by Perez and run-scoring single by Butler, who also drove in the first run of the game in the first inning.
Luis Mendoza pitched into the seventh to earn his second win of the year.
Tampa Bay will need a win Saturday to prevent both a losing series and losing homestand. Alex Cobb (6-2, 2.95 ERA) will take on Jeremy Guthrie (7-3, 3.60 ERA) starting at 4:10, with coverage beginning with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch at 3:00.