Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Royals Beat Astros, Ventura Earns First MLB Win

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[April 16, 2014]  HOUSTON  Lost amid the fawning and hoopla over the raw stuff Kansas City Royals rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura wields at his choosing was the fact that, entering Tuesday night, he had yet to record his first big-league win.

Ventura reached that milestone with relative ease at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, stifling the Houston Astros 4-2 to lead the Royals to their first road win.

Ventura (1-0) made his season debut a week ago against the Tampa Bay Rays and did not factor in the decision despite working a career-high six innings. In his second start of 2014, he allowed two runs (one earned), four hits and three walks while striking out seven over seven innings.

His fastball was not otherworldly but it was plenty electric. The same went for his change-up and a curveball that was effective when needed.

"I'm just really proud for him because that was like his fifth time he's gone for his first win and he's had an opportunity to win ballgames two or three times and we couldn't hold it for him," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Ventura. "To finally get that out of the way for him, to get his first major league win was big for all of us tonight."

His 101st pitch came against Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler, who represented the go-ahead run with teammates on first and second. Ventura induced Fowler to weakly tap a change-up to first baseman Eric Hosmer, preserving a two-run lead that his bullpen protected.

Right-handers Wade Davis and Greg Holland each worked a perfect inning of relief for the Royals (5-7). Davis struck out a pair of batters while Holland struck out the side to record his fourth save this season.

"I feel really good," Ventura said. "I feel that the team supported me and played really good defense and scored a lot of runs for me. It gives me a lot of satisfaction so I can keep working hard to help the team win."

The Astros (5-9) scored two or fewer runs in eight of their losses.

"We're going to have to get some offense going," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Regardless of how well you pitch, how well you play defense, the name of the game is whoever scores the most runs wins. If you're struggling to score runs, you're going to have a hard time winning."

Ventura gifted the Astros a run in the first inning when, with Fowler on third, he uncorked an errant throw attempting to pick off Jason Castro at first. The unearned run allowed Houston to pull even, but with Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell struggling, the deadlock was short-lived.

The Royals scratched across two runs in the third to surge ahead 3-1. Second baseman Omar Infante, whose one-out solo home run gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead in the first, scored on a Hosmer RBI double after Lorenzo Cain came home when Infante reached on a fielder's choice.

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Kansas City tacked on its final run in the fifth inning, loading the bases against Harrell with one out before designated hitter Billy Butler delivered a sacrifice fly to right, scoring right fielder Nori Aoki.

Harrell (0-3) departed trailing 4-1. He surrendered five hits and three walks while striking out four in five laborious innings, although that innings count represented a season high through three appearances.

"I've got to get strike one," Harrell said. "Through my first 10 hitters, I threw one first-pitch strike. That can't happen. I need to throw strikes in 1-1 counts, too, because that really killed me tonight."

NOTES: Astros manager Bo Porter indicated that RHP Scott Feldman should be activated from the bereavement list in time to start the series finale against the Royals on Thursday. Feldman did not get a decision despite pitching seven scoreless innings on Friday night against the Texas Rangers. He was placed on the bereavement list Saturday to attend funeral services for his father, who died last week after a lengthy bout with brain cancer. ... With a one-out solo shot in the first inning, Royals 2B Omar Infante delivered the Royals' second home run this season. He was a likely candidate to click considering he entered Tuesday 5-for-6 with an RBI in his career against Astros RHP Lucas Harrell. ... Harrell snapped the Houston rotation's stretch of four consecutive starts in seven innings.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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