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Royals’ Jorge Lopez flirts with a perfect game in just his 7th major league start

Lopez retired his first 24 batters on Saturday

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In an otherwise dismal season for the Kansas City Royals, a bright spot emerged on Saturday night with Jorge Lopez taking a perfect game into the ninth inning in beating the Minnesota Twins 4-1 at Target Field.

Lopez was acquired from the Brewers in the July 27 trade for Mike Moustakas, and the 25-year-old made just his seventh major league start on Saturday. The right-hander kept the Twins off balance all night, striking out four in his best start to date.

He retired his first 24 batters faced against Minnesota, but walked Max Kepler to open the ninth inning. Five pitches later Robbie Grossman singled to center field, just over the outstretched glove of Lopez on the mound, to break up the no-hitter.

Lopez was removed with 110 pitches, settling for the win with one of his bequeathed runners scoring after he left. He earned his third major league win, and second of 2018.

At eight innings, this tied the longest outing of Lopez’s professional career. His two complete games came in the minors, though both were rain-shortened affairs. With Saturday included, Lopez has now pitched all of 60⅓ major league innings.

The Royals have four no-hitters in franchise history, the last pitched by Bret Saberhagen on Aug. 26, 1991.

Even with the win on Saturday the Royals moved to just 47-94 (.333) on the season, last place in the American League Central and on pace for 108 losses. But don’t look now, Kansas City has won nine of their last 13 games, and at the very least can point to this outing by Lopez as a highlight of the campaign.