Royals rally after call on field overturned

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Scott Podsednik snapped a long power drought with a big home run. Anthony Lerew overcame early nerves for a solid return to the majors. Houston couldn't get anything going after getting off to a great start.

So many storylines, all of them overshadowed by a bizarre reversed call by the umpires that had the feel of a playground do-over but little effect on the outcome.

Podsednik hit a three-run homer, Lerew pitched six effective innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Astros 5-2 Thursday night in a game that featured a play no one on either side could remember seeing before.

"I don't think anyone's seen a play like that," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

It happened in the fifth inning.

With Mike Aviles on second and one out, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a soft liner that shortstop Geoff Blum appeared to trap. Second-base umpire Mike Everitt missed the call, ruling the ball had been caught in the air, and Blum stepped on second to double off Aviles for what appeared to be the final out.

Not so fast.

Yost came trotting out of the dugout to argue, but the umpires were already gathering before he got there. After deliberating for several minutes, they overturned the call and brought both teams back out to the field. Aviles was placed on third, and Betancourt was ruled out even though Blum never threw to first, as the umpires ruled that it was assumed that Betancourt would have been thrown out.

"Geoff was charging the ball, and we didn't have a good angle to see it," crew chief Tim McClelland said. "The only fair thing for us to do was rule it no catch, retire Betancourt and give Aviles third base. You can't assume an out at third base."

Blum was awarded an assist, and first baseman Lance Berkman got a putout despite never touching the ball because he was closest to Betancourt when the play was made. The call was similar to the rule regarding interference.

After a second round of arguing by Astros manager Brad Mills, the drama ended quickly: Brett Myers got Podsednik to line out on the next pitch, ending the inning.

The debate, though, will continue.

"To reverse a call like that opens up a huge can of worms," Mills said.

The Royals did all their damage after the chaos.

Kansas City scored four runs in the seventh inning off Myers (4-5), three on Podsednik's first homer in 144 at-bats and another on Betancourt's run-scoring single.

Victor Marte (2-0) worked a scoreless seventh and the Royals went up 5-2 in the eighth on Aviles' fielder's choice, giving closer Joakim Soria extra breathing room. Soria allowed two hits in the ninth before closing out his 16th save in 18 chances.

Some nice stuff, although none of it as interesting as the missed-call, phantom-out play that came before.

"We just wanted them to get the play right," Yost said. "They admitted they made a mistake, and that was probably in all reality the outcome we would have had if they had got the play right."

Lerew got the start after Luke Hochevar was placed on the disabled list with a strained elbow. The young right-hander was decent in a short stint in the majors last season, going 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts, and had a 2.84 ERA at Triple-A Omaha before being called up.

His return to the majors got off to a rocky start.

Lerew issued a four-pitch walk to Michael Bourn to start the game and gave up a line-drive, two-run double to Hunter Pence that froze Podsednik in the first.

But after the early-game jitters were out of the way, Lerew fell into a rhythm, keeping the Astros unsettled with his cha-cha-quick footwork and syrupy off-speed pitches.

Lerew struck out five in the next three innings and didn't allow another hit until Kevin Cash's soft, one-out single in the fifth. He matched a career high with seven strikeouts and allowed two runs on three hits.

"A little nervous at first, but once I settled in and kept the ball down, it went well," Lerew said.

Myers had the Royals off balance most of the night with his deceptive changeup and even got through a return to the field after a long wait on the play in the fifth. He just couldn't finish it off in the seventh, giving up three straight singles and Podsednik's three-run homer off the back of Kansas City's bullpen to lose in his first start at Kauffman Stadium.

"I felt good today," said Myers, who allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. "A couple of dink hits there in the seventh and ultimately the homer. It's frustrating."

Game notes
Warren Buffett threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He bounced it in front of the plate. ... Astros 3B coach Dave Clark was back on the field after being hit on the leg by a batted ball Wednesday night. ... Kansas City's Jose Guillen extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the eighth.