TORONTO (AP) – Dropped into an early hole after a dismal outing from Johnny Cueto, the resilient Royals fought back hard enough that Toronto needed its closer to wrap up Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.
Considering the Blue Jays twice led by seven runs, that was one thing the Royals felt good about.
The Blue Jays came out swinging and their rowdy fans were singing from the start, with Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson going deep in a six-run third inning as Toronto roughed up Cueto in an 11-8 victory that cut Kansas City's series lead to 2-1.
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer off Roberto Osuna in a four-run ninth that left nervous Blue Jays fans biting their nails — and not about incoming results from Canada's federal election.
"That's definitely a positive we can take from tonight," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said of Osuna's unexpected outing. "Obviously, if he's got to work tomorrow then you know he's coming in on back-to-back days. Hopefully that can be in our favor."
Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will try to get the Blue Jays even in the best-of-seven series Tuesday afternoon. He faces Kansas City's 6-foot-10 right-hander Chris Young in Game 4.
Cueto set down his final 19 batters in the Game 5 clincher against Houston in the AL Division Series, but couldn't continue that streak through the first inning Monday, walking José Bautista with two outs.
The dreadlocked Dominican gave up six hits and eight runs in two-plus innings. He walked four and hit a batter with a pitch.
"He couldn't command the ball down," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was up all night long."
As the full house of 49,751 serenaded Cueto off the field, he smiled and tossed his gum near the Royals dugout.
"That's just part of my DNA. That's what comes out, but there wasn't any laughing about it," he said through a translator.
Hosmer was surprised to see Cueto struggle, but said facing the power-packed Blue Jays is never easy.
"We all know how dangerous they are in this park," Hosmer said. "You don't think he would have the outing he did, but you know it's going to be tough."
Ryan Goins homered and had a two-run single for Toronto, one game after his misplayed pop fly set off Kansas City's winning rally in Game 2 on Sunday.
The Royals have rallied to win in four of their five postseason victories.
"We're not going to tuck our tails in and just give up," outfielder Alex Gordon said. "We've got a lot of competitors on this team and that's what you see."
Despite being outhit 15-11, Toronto pounced on Kansas City's pitching in the first ALCS game north of the border since 1993, scoring its most runs ever at home in the postseason — after managing just three in two games at Kansas City.
"That's really what we're all about," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We desperately needed that breakout."
Hosmer had a foul ball bounce up and hit his face in the fifth, leaving him with a bloody, cracked lower lip.
"It's just swollen, that's it," Hosmer said. "No pain."
Kansas City scored four times off Toronto starter Marcus Stroman and then added four in the ninth, a rally capped by Morales' drive into the second deck.
Toronto fans serenaded Cueto with a sing-song "Cueto-Cueto!" chant from the game's first pitch and never quieted down.
After the first, Cueto appeared flustered by the crowd. Eleven of his remaining 13 batters reached and at one point in the third inning he threw his hands up in frustration after gesturing for a new cycle of signs from catcher Salvador Perez.
Donaldson connected for a 9-2 lead two batters after Kris Medlen entered. Goins homered off Medlen in the fifth as Toronto matched its postseason best with three homers in a game. The Blue Jays also hit three against Texas in Game 4 of the ALDS.