KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brian Bannister failed to make the club in March and now he's Kansas City's best pitcher.
He's the hottest, at least. The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday night -- stretching his shutout string to 17 in a row -- and led the Royals to an 8-1 victory over St. Louis for his third win in his last three starts.
"I used to throw a lot of cut fastballs and now I'm a four-pitch pitcher," said Bannister (3-3). "And the changeup has really come along this year. That stint in Triple-A really did help. I'm kind of a new pitcher, and the progress is coming through."
Esteban German had three hits and three RBI and Mark Teahen singled, doubled and tripled as the Royals enjoyed a big game on offense for the third time in four outings. Struggling rookie Alex Gordon also had three hits as the Royals hiked their interleague record to 5-2.
"I think we're feeling good at the plate," Gordon said. "It seems like when somebody gets us going, everybody starts following their lead. Teahen got us going with that triple and everybody followed after that."
Teahen had an RBI triple in the first inning, doubled and scored in the second and singled home a run in the third, going 3-for-5. He and German keyed a five-run outburst in the first inning against Brad Thompson (4-2), who had his worst outing since joining the rotation May 8.
Thompson allowed 10 hits and eight runs in only 4 1/3 innings, with a season-high four walks and, for the first time in seven starts, no strikeouts.
"I can't remember a time I was this frustrated," Thompson said.
After Teahen tripled into the left-field corner past a diving Chris Duncan in the first, Thompson loaded the bases by hitting Mike Sweeney and Gordon.
Two runs scored on German's single, then two more came home when Jason LaRue doubled down the line just past third baseman Scott Rolen.
Gordon and German had RBI singles in the second and Mark Grudzielanek tripled and scored on Teahen's single in the third. Grudzielanek left the game in the fourth with tightness in his left knee.
Bannister, who was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on May 13, gave up seven hits, walked two and tied his season-high with six strikeouts.
In his last three starts covering 22 innings, the son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister has allowed only one earned run and 14 hits.
"We tried to throw everything," he said. "We were going in and out, hard, slow. I threw every pitch I had to those guys. They're a tough team."
Ryan Ludwick hit a pinch-hit homer leading off the ninth against David Riske to help the Cardinals avoid being shut out for the seventh time this season.
With a great chance to get to Bannister early, the Cardinals stranded five runners in the first two innings. He struck out Juan Encarnacion with the bases loaded and two out in the first and got Scott Spiezio on strikes with two on and two out in the second.
"I got out of my jam and then we came out and did a great job of getting him in a jam, and that was the difference in the game," Bannister said.
Bannister stopped a seven-game losing streak on June 1 by beating Tampa Bay 4-1, then beat Cleveland 4-3 in his next start to halt a three-game slide.
"He's been unbelievable the last couple of starts," Gordon said. "The last three starts, he's been unbelievable."
Rolen singled in the sixth for the Cardinals, his 1,500th major league hit. Encarnacion's single in the eighth stretched his hitting streak to 12 games.
"You got the ground ball by German and a ground ball by LaRue and the fly by Teahen in the corner there, so based on the contact they made, it should have been something less than what they got," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "But that's baseball."
Royals pitching coach Bob McClure was back after a five-day absence with what manager Buddy Bell described as a viral infection. ... Cardinals OF Preston Wilson underwent knee surgery on Tuesday and will be out for the year. Wilson, 32, batted .219 in 25 games this season with a homer and five RBI. ... Bannister's father, Floyd, was a combined 16-14 for the Royals from 1988-89.