KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John Axford got three outs in the ninth inning and wound up with a blown save.
Tough night at the ballpark.
The Brewers closer struck out Mitch Maier to start the inning Thursday night against Kansas City, but the final pitch got away from the catcher, and Maier scooted to first. Axford retired the next two hitters, but walked Jarrod Dyson to set in motion a bizarre series of events.
Pinch hitter Brayan Pena singled to left field to drive in the tying run, and Dyson headed for home when a misguided cutoff throw went to second base, giving the Royals a 4-3 victory.
"I got the first three guys out. I guess that's just the way it's been going for me, at least right now," Axford said, almost without emotion. "Even when I felt good today and was hitting my spots, except for one bad pitch, it still didn't work out in my favor."
It was the second straight night that Axford (1-3) blew a save.
He came in to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday night, and managed to get two outs before Alcides Escobar's tying triple. The Royals went on to win when Mike Moustakas walked with the bases loaded in the 11th inning.
This one was no less dramatic.
Royals manager Ned Yost and outfielder Jeff Francoeur had both been thrown out by the fourth inning, so they watched the end on television. They started shouting and hugging when Pena drove in the tying run, but didn't even notice Dyson sprinting for home.
"I don't know what happened! They didn't do a real good job of showing it on TV," Yost said with a broad smile. "Frenchy and I were watching it on TV and started pushing each other, and all of a sudden, Dyson is sliding across home plate."
Tim Collins (4-0) worked the ninth inning to earn the win for the Royals, who wrapped up a three-game sweep to build some momentum for their upcoming road trip.
"I was trying to make good contact, put the ball in play," Pena said of his clutch hit. "I knew we had some speed on the base paths. I just tried to make something happen."
Milwaukee had pulled ahead in the eighth when Carlos Gomez singled off Luke Hochevar, and Edwin Maysonet laid down a sacrifice to get him into scoring position. Pinch-hitter Cody Ransom singled to left off reliever Jose Mijares to give Milwaukee the lead.
The run put Shaun Marcum in line to pick up his fourth straight win.
At least, until everything unraveled in the ninth.
"If you're not playing well you're not going to get breaks," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We played OK for eight innings. Marcum pitched a great game. We didn't swing the bats again, but we're getting good starting pitching.
"Ax is in a little funk right now," Roenicke said, "but he'll get it going."
Ryan Braun homered in the fourth inning for Milwaukee, getting some help from a stiff breeze blowing out to left. Aramis Ramirez answered Eric Hosmer's go-ahead two-run homer for Kansas City in the sixth with a tying shot in the seventh, this one needing no help from the wind.
Francoeur and Yost watched all of that on TV in the clubhouse.
Francoeur was ejected in the second inning by plate umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing a called third strike, and Yost was tossed in the fourth inning when Iassogna ruled the ball dead on a bunt attempt by the Brewers' Nyjer Morgan that replays showed should have been in play.
It was a particularly embarrassing ejection for Francoeur, who is the namesake of a promotion for Thursday night home games. Fans can purchase tickets for $21 — his jersey number — and receive a T-shirt, drink coupon and seat in the "Frenchy Quarter" section overlooking right field.
Several hundred fans wearing the yellow shirts booed as Francoeur was ejected.
"I might have to invite them all out for a 'Frenchy Quarter' Wednesday," he said.
NOTES: The Royals optioned 1B Clint Robinson to Triple-A Omaha and purchased the contract of RHP Roman Colon. ... Kansas City signed its second-round draft pick, Vanderbilt LHP Sam Selman. ... Alice Cooper threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Milwaukee travels to Minnesota for a three-game series starting Friday night. RHP Yovani Gallardo gets the start. The Royals head to St. Louis for a three-game series with RHP Vin Mazzaro on the mound.