ARLINGTON (AP) — Jurickson Profar sprinted around the bases with a big smile after putting the Rangers ahead for good.
Maybe the only person happier than the 20-year-old rookie was his veteran manager.
Profar hit a tiebreaking home run with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday, lifting the Texas Rangers over the Kansas City Royals 3-1 on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Profar connected off J.C. Gutierrez (0-1) for his second homer, a solo shot that put Texas ahead 2-1.
Manager Ron Washington was the first to greet Profar in the dugout. With a big grin of his own, Washington snagged the batting helmet off Profar’s head before he was mobbed by teammates.
“What I get a kick out of is he’s not afraid of baseball,” Washington said. “Opportunities like today are what that young kid lives for. No one in the ballpark expected that. But he gave us a lift right there. He rose to the occasion.”
Profar was recalled from the minors to replace injured second baseman Ian Kinsler on May 19.
The top prospect is hitting .324 and hit his second homer in 10 games this season.
“I was just trying to get on base,” Profar said. “I guess I did a little better there.”
David Murphy added an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-1.
Tanner Scheppers (4-0) got two outs in the eighth and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances.
Yu Darvish allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six as he left with a 1-0 lead after seven innings.
After the game, Darvish said he felt fatigued after throwing 99 pitches. Washington added Darvish told him he was out of gas and didn’t want the Japanese ace to fight through another inning.
Neal Cotts replaced Darvish to start the eighth.
“Any time I throw more than seven innings, I always feel fatigued after that,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “So it was nothing special today.”
Alex Gordon doubled in the Kansas City eighth and scored on a grounder to make it 1-all.
The Rangers only had three singles coming into the eighth.
Gutierrez retired the first two batters of the inning before Profar came up to the plate. He lined a 1-2 pitch into the seats in right.
Elvis Andrus was on deck and joked about Profar’s speed rounding the bases.
“That was really quick,” Andrus said. “He’s going to hit plenty of homers in his career so he needs to work on that. He’s fun to watch.”
Rangers center fielder Craig Gentry threw out Billy Butler at home trying to score early as first-place Texas won for the third time in four games.
The Rangers were without All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre, who didn’t play because of a strained left hamstring. Washington said Beltre may be back in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.
Andrus wasn’t in the original starting lineup as he’s been hampered by a sore back in the past week. The shortstop, however, said he felt good when he woke up and convinced Washington he was ready to play.
Kansas City starter Ervin Santana allowed an unearned run and three singles in seven innings. The right-hander had lost his past four starts coming in.
The Royals haven’t scored more than four runs in a game since May 21 and have lost 10 of 12. Kansas City, which brought on Hall of Famer George Brett as interim hitting coach Thursday, scored only seven runs in dropping two of three to Texas.
“We were right there,” Butler said. “We were one pitch away, one hit away at every point in that game. It’s very frustrating.”
Santana didn’t allow a hit until Nelson Cruz singled with one out in the fourth.
Gordon, who snapped an 0-for-14 rut earlier in the game, led off the eighth with a broken-bat double against Cotts. Alcides Escobar had a sacrifice bunt that moved Gordon to third.
Eric Hosmer hit a chopper to Jeff Baker, who played third base in place of Beltre. Baker’s throw home was wild and Gordon scored easily to tie the game.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the second, Jeff Francoeur hit a liner to center and Gentry made a running catch. Gentry made a perfect throw to home plate and catcher Geovany Soto just got the tag on a sliding Butler.
NOTES: Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando will come off the disabled list and is scheduled to start Wednesday at Boston. Ogando (4-2) has been sidelined since May 16 with right biceps tendinitis. … Kansas City OF David Lough did not play a day after getting hit on the right wrist by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 10th inning Saturday. X-rays on the wrist were negative. … Brett and Rangers executive Nolan Ryan exchanged lineup cards before the game with umpire Dale Scott, who was behind home plate for the pair’s final game on Oct. 3, 1993. Brett went 1 for 4 that day, Ryan was injured and didn’t play.
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