St. Louis at Kansas City

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St. Louis (40-33)000000002281
Kansas City (31-43) «00300001x4101

Greinke takes shutout into ninth as Royals defeat Cardinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After a nightmarish start to his post-Cy Young season, Zack Greinke is starting to look a lot more like Zack Greinke.

The strike zone no longer seems tiny. The batters do not seem so invincible as they did when he was 1-8 on June 8. Taking a shutout into the ninth inning Friday night, Greinke settled for a 4-2 Royals victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in his third consecutive quality start.

"He's put together three pretty good starts here in a row," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's gaining velocity on his fastball. His command's been a lot better. He's really pitching terrific."

A slight tweak in his delivery probably helped the right-hander, who is 2-0 in his last three outings.

"I don't understand mechanics really," said Greinke (3-8), who went into the ninth hoping to help the Royals post consecutive shutouts for the first time in almost 18 years. "I just throw it hard and try to throw strikes, and that's about it."

Greinke was relieved by Joakim Soria after the first two batters in the ninth reached, including leadoff hitter Ryan Ludwick who was on because of catcher's interference. He gave up two runs, one earned, seven hits, walked two and struck out six. In the first two months of the season, he foundered around and sometimes almost felt lost.

"It was just that the strike zone was feeling small," he said. "It felt like if I threw a strike, it was a pitch to hit. If I threw a ball, it was a good pitch but it was still a ball. It looks normal now. Just throw the ball over the plate and let them hit it. It's kind of hard to make a perfect pitch every time. But at least now, if for some reason I happen to make a perfect pitch, I feel like there is nothing they can do with it, when [earlier in the season], even when I was making perfect pitches it felt like they were going to do something with it."

Felipe Lopez's sacrifice fly off Soria drove in Ludwick, and then David Freese added an RBI single. Soria picked up his 18th save in 20 opportunities.

"We did our rallies," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We came close to breaking loose and breaking through."

Alberto Callaspo and Scott Podsednik both had three hits as the Royals snapped the Cardinals' five-game winning streak in Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals beat Washington 1-0 on Thursday behind Brian Bannister and two relievers. The last time the Royals had consecutive shutouts was Sept. 29-30, 1992.

Ludwick appeared to fly out leading off the ninth but was awarded first base when home plate umpire CB Buckner ruled catcher's interference against Jason Kendall. Colby Rasmus doubled, putting Ludwick on third and bringing Soria out of the bullpen.

Jeff Suppan (0-3), making his third start since being acquired by the Cardinals, gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings. Suppan walked two, struck out five and had trouble only in the third.

With one out, Podsednik tripled into the right field corner and scored on Kendall's single. Billy Butler and Jose Guillen followed with RBI singles. Guillen extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games, tied with the ongoing streak by Texas' Josh Hamilton.

The Royals made it 4-0 in the eighth when pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist scored from third as the Cardinals failed to turn an inning-ending double play on Mitch Maier's grounder.

Greinke retired 10 straight until Randy Winn doubled leading off the sixth. Skip Schumaker followed with a single and the runners held as Greinke made a good play on Matt Holliday's high bouncer.

Albert Pujols walked, loading the bases, and Greinke went to 3-0 on Ludwick before getting him to ground into a double play.

The Cardinals threatened again in the eighth with runners at the corners and two outs. But Pujols, who came into the weekend series with a lifetime average against KC of .394, grounded into a forceout.

"The whole game we had something together, we had a real shot," La Russa said. "Very often, Greinke made the pitches to get out of it, so I give him credit. He was pretty good with nobody on, too. He was just effective the whole time."

The crowd of 38,916 was the third sellout of the season.

Notes

  • Ludwick was back in the Cardinals lineup as the DH and batting cleanup after missing the previous two games with a sore calf muscle.
  • Typical of Cardinals-Royals games, about half the crowd was wearing St. Louis red.
  • The Royals signed first-round pick Christian Colon, a college shortstop, for a $2.75 million signing bonus.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Zack Greinke allows one earned run and strikes out six to take care of the Cardinals.  (AP)
Zack Greinke allows one earned run and strikes out six to take care of the Cardinals. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

Z. Greinke
IP 8.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 2
K 6
St. Louis

S. Schumaker
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B-LF4030000 .261
Matt Holliday, LF4000003 .305
    Yadier Molina, C0000000 .240
Albert Pujols, 1B3000103 .307
Ryan Ludwick, DH3100011 .273
Colby Rasmus, CF4120020 .278
Felipe Lopez, SS3001000 .242
David Freese, 3B3011110 .300
Jason LaRue, C2000012 .135
   a- Aaron Miles, PH-2B2010000 .211
Randy Winn, RF4010012 .260
Totals3228226  
a-singled for LaRue in the 8th
Batting
2B - Colby Rasmus (14, Greinke), Randy Winn (5, Greinke)
SF - Felipe Lopez (1)
RBI - Felipe Lopez (17), David Freese (36)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Matt Holliday (1, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Suppan (L,0-3) 5733230 6.65
Dennys Reyes 1.1100010 3.20
Mitchell Boggs 1.2211010 2.93
HBP - Kendall (by Mitchell Boggs)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Suppan 86-52, Dennys Reyes 22-15, Mitchell Boggs 27-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Suppan 6-5, Dennys Reyes 1-2, Mitchell Boggs 3-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Suppan 23, Dennys Reyes 5, Mitchell Boggs 8
Kansas City Royals
Scott Podsednik, LF4130000 .295
Jason Kendall, C2111101 .258
David DeJesus, RF4000012 .320
Billy Butler, 1B4111002 .323
Jose Guillen, DH4021000 .279
    Willie Bloomquist, PR-DH0100000 .188
Alberto Callaspo, 3B3030100 .284
Mike Aviles, 2B4000006 .315
Mitch Maier, CF4001022 .256
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS4000022 .263
Totals33410425  
Batting
2B - Billy Butler (24, Suppan)
3B - Scott Podsednik (4, Suppan)
RBI - Jason Kendall (24), Billy Butler (38), Jose Guillen (45), Mitch Maier (26)
2-OUT RBI - Billy Butler (14), Jose Guillen (19)
SB - Mike Aviles (1, 2nd base off Suppan/LaRue)
CS - Scott Podsednik (8, 2nd base by Suppan/LaRue)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Callaspo-Aviles-Butler, Callaspo-Aviles-Butler
E - Jason Kendall (9, Interference)
Kansas City Royals
Zack Greinke (W,3-8) 8721260 3.72
Joakim Soria (S,18) 1100000 2.60
Pitches-Strikes - Zack Greinke 105-63, Joakim Soria 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zack Greinke 14-2, Joakim Soria 1-2
Batters Faced - Zack Greinke 32, Joakim Soria 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38916
Game Time - 2:47
Temperature - 91
Umpires - Home - C.B. Bucknor, First Base - Doug Eddings, Second Base - Dana DeMuth, Third Base - Kerwin Danley