NEW YORK (AP) The Kansas City Royals left their near flawless brand of baseball at home.
That Gold Glove defense led by Eric Hosmer bungled several key plays. Those bats that couldn't miss at Kauffman Stadium in the first two World Series games were flailing helplessly against Noah Syndergaard once the rookie settled in. The nearly unhittable bullpen had trouble getting outs at raucous Citi Field.
Yordano Ventura gave back two early leads and the Royals looked uncharacteristically shaky in a 9-3 loss to the New York Mets on Friday night that cut their lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
''They did a good job of capitalizing on all our mistakes,'' Hosmer said. ''Hopefully, we got them all out of the way tonight.''
Now it falls to 6-foot-10 Chris Young, pitching on three days' rest after his hitless relief appearance in Game 1, to try to push the Royals to the brink of their first World Series championship since 1985. He's set to start Game 4 on Saturday night against the Mets' Steven Matz.
The Royals got off to a hot start on a chilly night, shouting at Syndergaard after the golden-locked right-hander's first pitch sailed over the head of Alcides Escobar and scoring a run on Hosmer's fielder's choice.
But the unpredictable Ventura gave the lead right back, allowing a two-run homer to David Wright. He gave up another two-run shot, this time to Curtis Granderson, in the third to waste another lead.
''A lot of pitches were just coming back over the middle of the plate, and that's what happens when you leave them up,'' said Ventura, whose velocity was down on his near 100 mph fastball.
The right-hander really lost his way in the fourth.
After giving up two hits to open the inning, Ventura got Michael Conforto to hit a grounder between first and second base, with the infield playing in. Hosmer ranged far to his right to field the ball, nearly bumping into second baseman Ben Zobrist. Ventura made no effort to cover first and Homser made a late diving attempt to tag the bag.
''You could tell he was starting to get a little flustered,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said about Ventura. ''Started losing his focus and concentration at that point.''
The not-so-speedy Conforto beat the play for an infield hit, upping the Mets' lead to 5-3 and putting runners on first and third with none out.
The Royals got out of that jam but there was no comeback this time, though.
After allowing the first run by Kansas City's bullpen in the Series, reliever Franklin Morales threw away an opportunity to keep the score close in the sixth.
With runners on first and third, he fielded Granderson's comebacker and hesitated before throwing to second to try to start a double play. His toss was way off target and the Mets scored three more times, two of the big hits coming off near unhittable Kelvin Herrera to make it 9-3.
Morales thought he heard someone call for a throw home - perhaps catcher Salvador Perez, one of four Gold Glove nominees on the Royals - causing that slight lag before letting the ball go.
''Just a miscommunication between fielders and pitchers,'' Hosmer said.
The Royals only swung and missed three times on 94 pitches against Jacob deGrom in their 7-1 Game 2 victory, and their patient plate approach was working in the first two innings against Syndergaard. But then Mets flamethrower Syndergaard found his groove and Kansas City lost its rhythm. The Royals came up empty on 16 swings, STATS said, against Syndergaard.
From Zobrist's flyout to center field to end the second with a runner on second, the Royals made 12 straight outs before Mike Moustakas singled with two away in the sixth.
They loaded the bases with two walks but the clutch hitting was not to be found as Alex Rios grounded out for their best opportunity to get back into the game.
''We put balls in play, just didn't find any holes,'' Lorenzo Cain said.