Buck's 3 hits spark surging Royals past Rangers

Turning point: The Royals backed Odalis Perez up with a four-run third capped by Tony Pena Jr.'s two-run single, a shot up the middle off Millwood.

Figure this: Perez (6-9), who was 1-6 with a 6.32 ERA in his first 10 starts at Kauffman Stadium, picked up just his second victory at home this season.

Goat: Millwood was shelled for six runs and nine hits in a shaky outing for the Rangers' $48 million right-hander, who couldn't get out of the fourth inning.

Quotable: "When closers were born I guess the Lord said, 'You're going to make people nervous,'" -- Buddy Bell, about Octavio Dotel surviving a nervy ninth inning

-- ESPN.com news services

Royals 6, Rangers 5

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Octavio Dotel picked up another save on Saturday night, but this one had Royals manager Buddy Bell nervous.

Dotel gave up a pair of runs in a shaky ninth, after John Buck had three hits and two RBIs to stake Kansas City to an early lead, and the Royals held on to beat the Texas Rangers 6-5 for their third straight win.

Dotel, the subject of trade rumors as Tuesday's non-waiver deadline nears, gave up Nelson Cruz's two-run homer and Frank Catalanotto's double in the ninth. But Dotel struck out pinch hitter Ramon Vazquez and got Michael Young to fly out for his 11th save in 14 chances.

"When closers were born I guess the Lord said, 'You're going to make people nervous,'" Bell said.

Cruz, who was called up Friday from Triple-A Oklahoma, hit two home runs and drove in all five runs for the Rangers, who lost their second straight after a four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners.

"I'm sorry he got a little scared," Dotel said of Bell. "We won the game and that's all that matters. I got the next two outs. After the double, I said, 'It is time for you to get this game over.' Cruz hit my fastball. I throw it. He hit it. The fastball is my best pitch."

Buck, who entered the game hitting just .180 in July, singled home Emil Brown with two out in the second. Buck scored the second run of the inning when Mark Grudzielanek was hit by a Kevin Millwood pitch with the bases loaded.

"Millwood normally works ahead, but he made a mistake on a 2-2 pitch over the plate in my first at-bat," Buck said. "In my second at-bat, I had a 3-2 count and he had to be aggressive over the plate and gave me a good pitch to hit to left."

The Royals had six straight hits in the third inning, leading to four runs. David DeJesus' single to left chased Millwood (7-9), who allowed six runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings -- his shortest outing since he went 1 2/3 innings on May 14 against the Los Angeles Angels.

"I made some bad pitches at bad times," Millwood said. "I didn't do much to help myself. I wasn't putting the ball where I wanted to. They definitely didn't chase any bad pitches. Buck put some good at-bats together. I couldn't put him away quick."

Millwood was 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in his first four July starts.

"Millwood threw it in the strike zone and they hit it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The Royals made him work pretty good in the second and third innings [60 pitches]. That takes a lot out of any man. You have the Royals' hitters credit for making him work as hard as they did and putting the ball in play."

Left-hander Odalis Perez (6-9) won for the first time at home since April 20 against Minnesota. Perez, who was 1-6 with a 6.32 ERA in his first 10 starts at Kauffman Stadium, retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced. He gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, while striking out four and walking none.

Brown, who led the Royals with 41 doubles in 2006, had three hits, including two doubles. He hadn't doubled in 24 games.

Young had three of the Rangers' nine hits, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games.

Game notes
Broadcaster Denny Matthews, who has been with the Royals since their inception in 1969, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient ... The Rangers dropped to 19-33 on the road. ... The Royals improved to 12-10 in July. ... Rangers DH Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. ... DeJesus leads the AL with 14 HBPs after being plunked by Millwood in the second.