Kirk’s 2-run homer in 8th lifts Blue Jays over Royals

TORONTO (AP) — Alejandro Kirk hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning, sending the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-2 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Kansas City (36-56), in last place in the AL Central, was without 10 unvaccinated players, including All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi and infielder Whit Merrifield, during this four-game series in Toronto.

The Royals won the first game of the series Thursday and then dropped the next three.

Since unvaccinated foreign nationals aren’t allowed to enter Canada, the Royals roster included Triple-A and Double-A prospects, making a difficult situation even worse for Kansas City.

Both teams scored a pair of runs in the first few innings, but that was the extent of the offense until Kirk’s homer off Wyatt Mills (0-1).

Blue Jays starter José Berríos settled into a rhythm, working 6⅓ innings, allowing two earned runs and seven hits while striking out seven and walking one.

Left-hander Tim Mayza (3-0) took over for Berríos out of the bullpen, working 1⅔ innings in relief with two strikeouts to pick up the win. Jordan Romano worked a perfect ninth for his 20th save of the season.

Royals starter Kris Bubic kept Blue Jays hitters off balance. He was effective against the right-handed heavy Jays, allowing just two unearned runs and five hits while striking out four. Bubic has been the victim of bad luck all season, where the offense usually sputters during his strong outings.

Royals rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. let a routine double play ball go through his legs in the third inning. His 13th error of the season contributed to the first two Blue Jays runs.

Nick Pratto, one of Kansas City’s call-ups, hit his first major league home run in the second inning. During this four-game series, the 24-year-old showed why he’s considered one of the Royals’ top prospects.

Kansas City heads into the All-Star break right behind the Tigers, who are trying desperately not to be in the cellar of the division.

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