KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Whether they're being serious or entirely tongue-in-cheek, the Cincinnati Reds have begun calling themselves “America's Team.”
A few more series like they had in Kansas City and that moniker might expand beyond the clubhouse.
The Reds pounded out four homers Wednesday night, including three during a five-run fifth inning, and held on for a 7-4 victory over the Royals that not only completed the three-game sweep but extended their winning streak to five straight.
“It's a long season. It doesn't matter who we're playing, we just got to play our brand of baseball,” said Matt McLain, whose three-run shot highlighted the Reds' big inning. “You play it hard no matter what happens. That's what we're going to do.”
Spencer Steer homered in the second before Stuart Fairchild and Jonathan India joined McLain in going deep in the fifth, breaking open a 1-all game and sending the Reds to their eighth win in their last 10 games.
Ben Lively (4-4) ended a rough stretch for Cincinnati starters, allowing 10 hits but just two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Alexis Diaz entered with two on and one out in the ninth and struck out Freddy Fermin and retired Dairon Blanco for his 17th save.
“We have to do whatever it takes to get a win,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Home runs played a big part tonight.”
The Royals' Daniel Lynch (0-3) gave up all four Reds homers, the most he's allowed in an outing in his career. That led to all seven of their runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, extending Lynch's winless streak stretched to 15 starts.
The Royals, who at 18-50 have the worst record in the majors, have lost a season-high nine straight games.
“We had chances to drive guys in,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “We have to keep putting quality at-bats together, and when you have a chance to drive in runs, you can't change your approach.”
Steer set the tone for the Reds in the second when he deposited Lynch's 1-1 pitch in the left-field seats, though the Royals at least answered that homer. Bobby Witt Jr. drove in a run on his 23rd birthday with one of his three hits on the night.
It turned out to be a costly inning for the Royals, though. Salvador Perez was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Lively and had to be replaced by Maikel Garcia. Perez was diagnosed with a bruise and is day-to-day.
“We got pretty lucky,” said Quatraro, adding that X-rays on Perez came back negative. "He said right away, ‘I’ve got to come out.’ It got him right on, I don’t know what bone, but it squared him up good.”
The Reds pulled ahead in the fourth when a video review turned a leadoff groundout by McLain into a hit. India followed with a flyball to left field that Edward Oliveras nearly caught but instead fell for a go-ahead RBI double.
But it was the deep ball that ruined the night for Kansas City.
Fairchild began the Reds' big fifth inning with his line drive into the left-field bullpen, and McLain made it 6-1 with his soaring three-run shot later in the inning. India capped the five-run frame and gave Cincinnati back-to-back homers for the second time this season when he sent his eighth of the year over the left-field wall.
The Royals got runs back in the sixth, seventh and ninth before Diaz left the bases loaded by closing out the game.
“We had the chant going on, ‘America’s Team!' We're going with that consensus,” Lively said. “Just everyone kept scrambling, man, and the positivity in the clubhouse is so cool.”
Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino will have season-ending surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He felt discomfort during a game against Baltimore on June 9, and an MRI exam Monday revealed the damage. One of the club's best young hitters, Pasquantino was batting .247 with nine homers and 26 RBIs through 61 games.
Reds: RHP Graham Ashcraft (bruised left calf) had a side session pushed back to Friday but still plans to throw at least two before returning the next weekend. ... OF Jake Fraley (bruised right wrist) plans to take batting practice Friday and Saturday.
Royals: RHP Josh Staumont (neck strain) threw a side session Wednesday. RHP Brad Keller (right shoulder impingement) is scheduled to throw one during Thursday's off day.
After a day off, Cincinnati heads to Houston to begin a three-game series Friday night with LHP Andrew Abbott (2-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound. Kansas City faces the Angels with RHP Brady Singer (4-5, 6.58) getting the nod for Friday night's opener.
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