Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe, left, tags out the Royals' Bobby Witt...

Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe, left, tags out the Royals' Bobby Witt Jr., right, as he attempts to steal second base during the sixth inning of a game in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday. Credit: AP/Colin E. Braley

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Late Thursday morning, Aaron Boone said his Yankees were “hungry” to complete a four-game sweep of the Royals, not at all satisfied with the relative ease of their victories in the first three games.

They appeared as if they’d eat well – and there’s no better city to do that than Kansas City – with a stirring eighth-inning comeback.

But Clay Holmes, well on his way to an All-Star bid with his performance the first two-plus months of the season, suffered his fourth blown save of the year.

Maikel Garcia’s two-out, two-run double off the closer capped a weird bottom of the ninth inning and sent the Yankees to a 4-3 loss in front of 21,875 at Kauffman Stadium.

“Really, just one I need to close out and finish that one for us,” Holmes said.

The Yankees, still an MLB-best 49-22, continue this seven-game trip Friday night at Fenway Park, where they'll face the Red Sox for the first time this season.

Holmes, who brought a 1.23 ERA into the day and looking for his 20th save in 23 chances, allowed a one-out infield single to Drew Waters. It was a slow roller that settled into the glove of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was playing back and had to come in for the ball. Rizzo’s flip to a covering Holmes wasn’t in time and the Royals (40-30), who saw the Yankees storm back with a three-run eighth to take a 3-2 lead on Juan Soto’s two-out RBI single, had life.

“It’s tough,” Rizzo said of the Waters’ ball. “When it gets to the dirt, you have to make sure you smother it before you throw it. It’s not the easiest to play. He just beat it out.”

Soto, from his spot in right, called it “a tough play.”

“[Waters] put that ball in a perfect spot,” Soto said.

After pinch hitter MJ Melendez grounded into a fielder's choice, Kyle Isbel, who fought back to a full count after falling in a 0-and-2 hole, singled to center to put runners at the corners with two outs. Garcia, after getting ahead 2-and-0, yanked one down the third-base line to win it.

“I just can’t fall behind 2-0 there,” said Holmes, who also lamented allowing Isbel to get back into his at-bat. “Once he sees two sinkers and he’s got count leverage, he’s just selling out for that pitch there. I have to start off with some better pitches and get some count leverage. Some tough pitches there. I was ahead early to the guy before that and couldn’t make a pitch there [to Garcia]. It’s a tough one, especially after Nestor really gave us a great start today, and our offense battled back.”

Royals righty Alec Marsh, who came in 5-3 with a 4.05 ERA, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning with the Royals leading 2-0. Soto broke up the bid with a line-drive single to right to lead off the inning, but Marsh struck out two of three batters.

Righty John Schreiber came on for the eighth, and the Royals’ lead went up in smoke. Rizzo, benched Sunday and Monday for what Boone hoped would be a mental “reset,” led off the inning with his first home run since May 10, a shot into the Royals' bullpen in right that made it 2-1.

After DJ LeMahieu grounded out, Austin Wells reached on an error by second baseman Garrett Hampson. Pinch runner Jahmai Jones went to third on a single to right by Trent Grisham and came in to tie it on Anthony Volpe’s RBI groundout to third. Soto — who else?— delivered the go-ahead run with a hard two-out single to right off lefty Angel Zerpa, brought in to face him.

Luke Weaver walked two with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but he got Salvador Perez to fly to right, then struck out Nelson Velazquez looking at a 96-mph fastball to end the inning.

He came on for Nestor Cortes, who allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings, an improvement over his previous start against the Dodgers when he allowed four runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings of an 11-3 loss.

“Great job of almost grabbing it,” Boone said afterward of the near-sweep against one of the American League’s upstart teams. “Hey, they’ve got a good club too, and they put together some good at-bats to beat us.”

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