KANSAS CITY — The Royals had the go-ahead run on second base with nobody out in the eighth inning. Jarrod Dyson got the sign to bunt and failed miserably on two strikes, then chopped a grounder to first base that got his teammate thrown out.
"I was real frustrated," Dyson said later, shaking his head.
So he did something about it.
The speedster swiped second base, then third. That got Dyson into position for Salvador Perez to drive him in with a scorching liner off the glove of third baseman Adrian Beltre for a single. The run proved to be the decider in a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night that kept Kansas City atop the American League Central by a half-game over Detroit.
"When I got to first, I knew I had to make up for it. I had to steal a couple of bags," Dyson said. "Then Salvy did a great job. Good piece of hitting to get me in."
Jason Frasor (4-1) left runners on the corners in the eighth against his former team, and Aaron Crow worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his third save of the season.
All-Star closer Greg Holland was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days.
"Phenomenal job," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Crow, who had just been recalled from Double-A Northwest Arkansas. "I knew if we got to the ninth with the lead, it'd be Aaron."
The Rangers' Derek Holland and counterpart Jeremy Guthrie pitched to a stalemate through seven innings before the Royals broke through against Michael Kirkman (0-1) in the eighth.
The Royals' Nori Aoki and the Rangers' Daniel Robertson drove in the game's other runs.
Holland looked unhindered by the knee surgery that had kept him out all season, working around a double in the first and breezing through the middle innings.
"It's my first game back. It's in the big leagues, a big time-atmosphere, especially with a playoff team over here," Holland said. "I wanted to make sure I stayed calm."
His only trouble was hardly of his own doing. Alcides Escobar doubled leading off the third, a fly ball that left fielder Ryan Rua should have caught near the wall. Two batters later, Aoki hit a fly ball to shallow left field that Rua whiffed on with an awkward slide for an RBI double.
"People make mistakes," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Meanwhile, Guthrie kept dodging trouble until the fifth, when Rougned Odor tripled to start the inning. Robertson drove him in with a groundout to tie the game.
Guthrie proceeded to battle through two more innings on a night when the Royals were short on bullpen help. Top relievers Kelvin Herrera had also pitched three straight nights.
Francisley Bueno recorded one out for Kansas City. Frasor and Crow handled the rest.