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Phelps struggles in start for Yankees, Perez hits 3-run shot and Royals roll to 8-4 victory

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - David Phelps made sure to keep the Federal Communications Commission happy.

One can only guess what the Yankees pitcher really thought of his performance Saturday night.

Phelps was pounded for seven runs while failing to make it through the sixth inning — his second straight lousy start — and the Kansas City Royals rolled to an 8-4 victory that evened their four-game series with New York.

"Frustrating is the PG-rated word for it," said Phelps, who allowed 10 hits and walked two. "I was pitching decent going into later parts of games, but it's tough to win ballgames when you give up four runs in the sixth and seventh inning. It's frustrating."

Phelps (1-4) gave up three runs in the second on a string of singles and doubles, and four more in the sixth on a three-run homer by Salvador Perez and an RBI single by Nori Aoki.

That was enough to doom him to his fourth consecutive loss.

"It's usually a combination of mistakes and being behind in the count," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "After he gave up three, he settled in pretty nicely, but then struggled again."

Aaron Crow (3-1) retired one batter in the sixth in relief of starter Danny Duffy, and breezed through the seventh to earn the victory. Kelvin Herrera and Michael Mariot finished it off.

Yangervis Solarte drove in a pair of runs for New York, and Carlos Beltran — who's been bothered by an ailing elbow and is still relegated to designated hitter duty — got an RBI with his first hit since coming off the disabled list Thursday.

"It's like starting over for me," Beltran said. "One day, two days is not going to do it, any difference. Basically you have to play every day and with playing time that will come. I cannot tell you (when). I wish I could know."

The Royals struck first when Billy Butler and Alex Gordon led off the second with back-to-back doubles, and Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar provided run-scoring singles for a 3-0 lead.

It took the Yankees until the sixth to answer.

Derek Jeter started the rally with a single and Mark Teixeira kept it going with a two-out walk. Beltran followed with an RBI double against his former team, and Solarte tied the game 3-all when his sinking liner to centre field dropped just beyond Cain's outstretched glove.

Duffy, who appeared bothered by lengthy waits for television breaks between innings, was eventually removed after allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings.

The Royals made sure to pick him up.

Butler and Gordon worked walks to start the bottom half of the sixth, earning Phelps a visit from Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. It didn't do any good. Two pitches later, Perez sent a no-doubt homer into the bullpen in left field to restore the Royals' three-run lead.

"We needed that," Perez said.

Cain tripled later in the inning, and Aoki's RBI single knocked Phelps from the game.

"We just scored three runs. That's the worst kind of team error right there," Phelps said. "To go out and we have all the momentum right there and in nine pitches gave it right back."

It was another poor outing by the Yankees right-hander, who moved from the bullpen into the rotation last month. Phelps has lost four straight decisions, allowing 16 runs in the last three.

Eric Hosmer's homer leading off the seventh was his first since May 5, a span of 130 at-bats, and Brian Roberts tacked on a run off Mariot in the ninth inning that proved to be moot.

"You've got to keep battling back," Girardi said. "We're still fighting."

NOTES: The Yankees have not scored more than four runs in any of their last nine games. ... Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hit streak to 12 games. ... Royals 2B Omar Infante went 0 for 5, extending his slump to 0 for 18. ... The Yankees chose RHP Mariano Rivera III, the son of longtime closer Mariano Rivera, in the 29th round of the first-year player draft. ... Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda and Royals RHP James Shields are scheduled to start Sunday.

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