A.J. Burnett kept giving the Kansas City Royals a free pass to first base, walking five of them and even hitting a batter. He wiggled out of every jam, though, and turned over a lead to the New York Yankees bullpen.
David Robertson and the rest of the crew couldn't make it stick.
Kansas City tied the game in the eighth inning, then watched Eric Hosmer deliver the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 11th, sending the Royals to a 4-3 victory Wednesday night.
"It's just disappointing for A.J., as well as he threw the ball," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "That's not the first time it's happened to him."
Burnett allowed only one hit — Hosmer's first career homer, a soaring shot into the second deck in right field in the fourth inning. Otherwise, the right-hander kept escaping trouble, striking out six while making it through the seventh inning.
"The bottom line is you don't want to walk guys and put guys on, but you have to make the pitches," Burnett said. "I just kept running positive thoughts through my mind."
Wilson Betemit had a tying RBI single in the eighth for Kansas City and Jeff Francoeur drove in a run during the 10th inning. Joakim Soria (3-0) allowed Curtis Granderson's matching RBI single in the bottom half of the 10th but wound up earning the win.
Louis Coleman pitched the 11th for his first career save, helping the Royals end a seven-game road skid and win for the sixth time when trailing in the eighth inning or later.
"It's pretty frustrating, considering the way A.J. pitched," Gardner said. "It's probably the longest game we've played all year and we came up on the short end."
Buddy Carlyle (0-1) walked Chris Getz to lead off the 11th inning, and Luis Ayala came into the game to face Alcides Escobar, who laid down a sacrifice bunt. Jarrod Dyson followed with an infield single and Cabrera was walked before Hosmer's go-ahead fly to center field.
"First big-league home run, and the sweetest thing is we came out with a win," Hosmer said.
The Yankees led 2-0 when Hosmer connected off Burnett in the fourth inning. The fan who grabbed the ball in right field tossed it back onto the field, and it made its way back to the Royals dugout by the time Hosmer had finished rounding the bases.
The Yankees carried their meager 2-1 lead into the eighth, when Robertson walked Cabrera and Billy Butler. Betemit followed moments later with his tying two-out single.
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth for the Yankees, who put two aboard in the bottom half of the inning, only to see Posada strike out on a full-count pitch.
The Royals pulled ahead in the 10th on Francoeur's RBI line drive, and Hosmer delivered the win for Kansas City with his sacrifice fly the next inning.
"I fell down 0-2 to a tough pitcher out of the bullpen, knowing Getz is on third and can run, and just tried to get it out in play and get him home," Hosmer said.
Vin Mazzaro started for Kansas City in place of Bruce Chen, who went on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his side. The former Oakland A's starter was just as erratic as Burnett, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks in just four innings.
Oddly, none of the batters he walked came around to score, either.
Royals reliever Nathan Adcock also hit a batter, beaning Robinson Cano above the bill of his helmet with two outs and nobody on base in the fifth inning.
Cano immediately went down in the batter's box as the ball ricocheted toward the Royals dugout, then sat up as manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to check on him. Cano started walking toward first before the Yankees decided to bring in Eduardo Nunez as a pinch runner. He remained in the game to play second base.
Cano went for a CT scan and is considered day to day.
Things got a bit testy in the sixth, when Burnett plunked Francoeur in the shoulder with a runner already on base. Plate umpire Ed Rapuano warned both dugouts.
"We didn't hit Cano (on purpose). Cano's a great player. That was an absolute accident," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But I didn't think Burnett hitting Francoeur was an accident."
Notes: Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano had an MRI exam on his ailing right elbow, which revealed minor inflammation. Girardi called him day to day. ... The Yankees activated Ayala from the disabled list and optioned RHP Lance Pendleton to Triple-A. ... Royals OF Alex Gordon got the day off from the starting lineup.