KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- So how can the same bunch of guys who lose 12 in a row in May turn around and win 11 of 12 in June?
"We weren't hitting and we weren't pitching at the same time," said right-hander Gil Meche, who went seven strong innings Friday night in a 7-2 victory over St. Louis. "Both parts of our game went downhill. But guys stayed positive and luckily, we got out of it. Now good things are happening."
Are they ever.
Alex Gordon hit his fifth home run in 16 games and drove in four runs as the Royals won their sixth in a row, their longest winning streak since opening the 2003 season 9-0. David DeJesus had a two-run double and raised his major league-leading average to .472 with runners in scoring position. As the Cardinals tried futilely to catch up, several Royals made outstanding defensive plays.
"Guys are putting together good at-bats," said John Buck, who ended up standing on a folding chair while catching a foul ball over the railing in the first inning. "We're getting two-out hits with runners in scoring position, things we weren't doing when we weren't winning.
KC's only loss since starting its hot streak on June 14 was a 9-4 setback to San Francisco on June 20 when rookie starter Luke Hochevar failed to hold a 4-0 lead. At the end of their 12-game skid on May 30, they were 13 games under .500. Now they have the best interleague record in baseball at 13-3 and are within six games of .500 at 37-43.
"We went through a stretch where it was like, 'OK, what's going to happen next?' It kept going downhill," said Gordon. "Now it's going the other way. Everything's working well and we're feeling really positive."
The near-capacity crowd had Kauffman Stadium rocking as always when the state rivals from St. Louis are in town, with a big chunk of the 36,000 people wearing Cardinal red. Every time either team did something, half the stadium roared. Royals fans were even more energized than usual because of their unexpected hot streak, which includes a rare three-game sweep of the Cardinals last week in Busch Stadium.
Meche, winning for the third straight start, went seven innings and gave up one run on six hits. Pineiro (2-4) went 7 2/3 innings and was charged with all seven runs and 10 hits. The right-hander has six no-decisions and two losses in eight starts since beating Cincinnati on April 29.
"He made a couple of mistakes, two to the third baseman. That's four runs," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "You compliment him for staying in after it and almost completing the game, but those early mistakes gave them a lot of momentum."
Joey Gathright got an RBI single in the second when shortstop Aaron Miles charged his high bouncer. The ball slipped out of Miles' hands and Buck scored from third. The bases were loaded on three singles, and Gordon cleared them by slamming Pineiro's pitch into the right-field corner with two out.
"I saw a couple of changeups to start," Gordon said. "When I got two strikes, I was kind of sitting on that, and I was able to hook it down the line. All things are clicking right now."
The Cardinals have scored three runs or fewer in nine of their last 10 losses.
"Offensively, we have to get more going," said La Russa.
- The Cardinals are 5-8 against the AL this year.
- It was Pineiro's longest outing of the season.
- DeJesus stretched his hitting streak to 12 games.