KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals starter Yordano Ventura returned from an eight-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing fight, only to get slapped around by the St. Louis offense on Tuesday night.
It wasn’t even the worst thing to happen to Kansas City, either.
That was the moment All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain reached for his hamstring while trying to beat out a single in the seventh inning of an 8-4 loss. Cain immediately left the game and declined to speak to reporters in the clubhouse, though he appeared to be walking without much of a limp.
"I wish I had an answer for you but it doesn’t happen that quick," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We’ll have an MRI soon as they can get him in. We’ll determine how much fluid is on it and what the extent is."
As for Ventura — well, Yost didn’t have much of an answer for that performance, either.
"I thought he was OK. I was really pleased he stayed with himself," Yost said. "He was inconsistent at times with his arm slot, but a lot of good signs out there for me."
Just about everybody in the Cardinals lineup contributed to their offense, while Michael Wacha (4-7) allowed four runs over six bumpy innings — he served up nine hits and three walks.
"We could have helped him with a couple plays we need to make," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
His bullpen nearly gave away the win, too: Seung Hwan Oh loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before getting pinch-hitter Alex Gordon to pop out and inducing Eric Hosmer into a routine fielder’s choice.
"I don’t want to put the team in that situation," Oh said through a translator.
The cross-state series shifts to St. Louis for two more games beginning Wednesday night.
Ventura actually breezed through the first inning on just 12 pitches, but trouble came promptly in the second. He gave up three hits, walked two and Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia drove in runs.
He appeared to settle down over the next couple innings before more trouble hit in the fifth.
Matt Carpenter started it with a homer to center, the 48th allowed by a Kansas City pitcher this month — the club record is 51 in May 2006. Matt Adams added a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 5-2.
Ventura’s night was done in the sixth, when another hit and walk brought Yost ambling from the dugout. He was charged with seven runs on seven hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 1/3 innings.
"There’s no excuse to the outing, but I felt a little weird at times just because of the layoff," he said. "It’s not an excuse. I’ll continue to work hard in-between starts and get back after it."
Yost on Ventura: "He was inconsistent at times with his arm slot, but a lot of good signs out there today for me."https://t.co/vVSEEDvERc
Carpenter provided an RBI double and Brandon Moss and Matt Holliday made it 8-2 later in the sixth inning before reliever Brian Flynn finally got Kansas City out of the jam.
The Royals tacked on two runs in the bottom half before its comeback collapsed in the ninth.
"We had some opportunities. We capitalized in the second inning," Yost said. "We had a couple of more opportunities. We made it exciting in the ninth inning, but couldn’t make anything happen."
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Plate umpire Tim Timmons tossed Royals RHP Edinson Volquez from the bench during the third inning, though it was unclear what prompted the ejection. It was the second time Volquez has been ejected in his career.
The Cardinals activated C Brayan Pena (left knee surgery) from the DL and designated C Eric Fryer for assignment. Pena signed a $5 million, two-year deal to back up Yadier Molina but has not played this season.
Cardinals SS Aledyms Diaz had no structural damage after fouling a ball off the ground Monday night that ricocheted back off his forehead. He experienced blurry vision in his right eye and visited the hospital after the game, but Matheny said Tuesday that Diaz should be back in a few days.
RHP Carlos Martinez takes the mound for the Cardinals while Kansas City counters with Volquez on the mound at Busch Stadium. Martinez is 3-0 in his last five starts.