Friday, June 06, 2014
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Royals finish 3-1 in home-and-home vs. Cards

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[June 06, 2014]  KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura passed his elbow test, and the Kansas City Royals' offense put it together for one inning.

Ventura pitched six strong innings, and the Royals grouped five hits to score three runs in the sixth and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Thursday night.

The Royals won three of four from the Cardinals this in a home-and-home series, sweeping both games at Busch Stadium before splitting a pair at Kauffman Stadium.

"Any time you can take three out of four from the Cardinals, it means a lot," said Kansas City closer Greg Holland, who logged his 17th save.

Ventura, who skipped his previous start because of a sore elbow, limited the Cardinals to two runs and seven hits before departing after 91 pitches, 55 for strikes. He walked two and struck out one. Ventura (3-5) exited a May 26 start after 2 2/3 innings and 74 pitches to the elbow ailment.

"Everything was good," Ventura said with teammate Bruce Chen acting as his interpreter. "I wasn't nervous. I was very anxious. I wanted to pitch well to help the team win."

The Royals managed just two hits the first five innings before breaking through in the sixth to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar and right fielder Nori Aoki started the sixth with back-to-back doubles. First baseman Eric Hosmer singled home Aoki for the second run of the inning. Catcher Salvador Perez's two-out single drove in Hosmer with the go-ahead run.

"Just enough offense for us to win the game," Royals manager Ned Yost.

Right-hander Michael Wacha (4-4) allowed three runs and seven hits. He walked one and struck out one.

"I made a lot of mistakes tonight, even early on that I got away with," Wacha said. "I just didn't have the command I needed to get out of there in that sixth inning. They just kept on putting good at-bats together, started hitting my mistakes in that sixth.

"I didn't have the command that I'm used to. The cutter wasn't there. I left a lot of changeups up in the zone that they made me pay for."

After Royals relievers Francisley Bueno and Wade Davis worked perfect innings, Holland was summoned for the ninth and it provided some perilous moments.

Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras led off the ninth with an infield single, although he was originally called out. A review showed he was clearly safe, and the call was overturned in 71 seconds. Randal Grichuk pinch-ran for Taveras and moved to second on a wild pitch, but Holland struck out the final three batters.

"You start getting into the backend of that 'pen and the stuff they have and the numbers aren't going to lie," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "These guys have been shutting the door, getting a lot of strikeouts and swings and misses like we had tonight and a lot of chases out of the zone. It's hard for guys to get something off of."

The Royals finally got Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter out. Carpenter, who went 5-for-5 with a walk Wednesday and reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances, lined out to open Thursday's game, but it took an exceptional diving catch by Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon to retire him.

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There was a strange occurrence in the bottom of the first when Aoki went down after being beaned by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Yes, he was beaned by the catcher.

Molina's throw back to Wacha struck Aoki in the batting helmet. Aoki required assistance from the Royals' training staff but remained in the game, grounding out to shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

"Yadi was real apologetic," Yost said. "Nori was just like, 'OK, OK.'"

Center fielder Peter Bourjos stroked his team-leading third triple with two outs in the top of the first, scoring left fielder Jon Jay, who had singled, for the Cardinals' first run off Ventura.

St. Louis upped the lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Jay singled with two outs, and Bourjos walked. Carpenter's ground single past Hosmer brought home Jay.

Wacha faced the minimum numbers of batters through four innings, allowing only a single to center fielder Lorenzo Cain to lead off the third. Cain was erased when third baseman Mike Moustakas lined out to first baseman Allen Craig for a double play.

"I haven't seen a ball hit harder for an out," Yost said.

The Cardinals' eighth loss in 10 games dropped them to 31-30.

"I think we all know we're not playing up to our potential," Wacha said. "I think if we just keep on grinding and work on getting better, I think the results will change for sure."

Cardinals rookie second baseman Kolten Wong aggravated his left shoulder injury, which he first injured Tuesday, and left in the fifth inning. He said he felt it when he was finishing his swing.

NOTES: On Wednesday, 1B Eric Hosmer became the first Royals player to strike out four times in a game against the same pitcher (Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright) since LHP Randy Johnson struck out Kansas City IF Shane Halter four times on July 18, 1997. ... Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who starts Friday against the Yankees, has been received one run of support during his past four starts. ... Cardinals rookie LHP Sam Freeman has allowed one hit and no runs in seven relief appearances covering 7 1/3 innings. ... The Cardinals are in the midst of nine consecutive interleague games before returning to National League play June 13 with a game against the Washington Nationals.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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