HOUSTON — Kansas City rookie Yordano Ventura entered Tuesday night’s game winless in four career starts dating to last season despite posting a 2.53 ERA in those games.
On Tuesday night, he pitched seven solid innings and finally got his first victory as the Royals beat the Houston Astros 4-2.
"I’m just really proud for him because that was like his fifth time he’s gone for his first win and he’s had an opportunity to win ballgames two or three times and we couldn’t hold it for him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "To finally get that out of the way for him, to get his first major league win was big for all of us tonight."
Omar Infante homered and drove in two runs for the Royals.
Ventura (1-0), an elite prospect with a 100 mph fastball, allowed four hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts in seven innings — both career highs. His seven strikeouts were the most by a Kansas City rookie since Will Smith also fanned seven on Sept. 11, 2012.
"I feel really good," Ventura said in Spanish through a translator. "I feel that the team supported me and played really good defense and scored a lot of runs for me. It gives me a lot of satisfaction so I can keep working hard to help the team win."
Infante had a solo shot in the first inning off Lucas Harrell (0-3) and added an RBI in the third inning as the Royals found some offense after managing just five runs combined as they were swept in a weekend series at Minnesota.
Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler had an RBI each for Kansas City and Lorenzo Cain had a pair of hits for his fourth multihit game this season.
"We just got a couple of timely hits today and as an offense we need to do a better job of that," Hosmer said. "The way our pitchers have thrown we’ve got to find a way to produce runs for them and tonight we did a good job of that."
Carlos Corporan homered in the fifth inning for the Astros, who have scored two runs or fewer in three of their past four games.
Harrell gave up five hits and four runs in five innings and has allowed 14 runs in three starts combined this season.
"I’ve got to get strike one," Harrell said. "Through my first 10 hitters, I threw one first-pitch strike. That can’t happen. I need to throw strikes in 1-1 counts, too, because that really killed me tonight."
Ventura had retired 12 of the last 13 batters when Corporan launched his homer into the first row of the seats in right field with one out in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 4-2.
He got back on track after that and didn’t allow another hit until Matt Dominguez singled to start the seventh inning. He walked Jonathan Villar with two outs, but ended the threat and his night when he retired Dexter Fowler after a short coaching visit to the mound. Wade Davis pitched a perfect eighth before Greg Holland struck out the side in the ninth for his fourth save. He has converted 13 straight save opportunities dating to Sept. 7.
Infante put Kansas City up early with his solo homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field with one out in the first inning.
Fowler hit a leadoff double and reached third on a one-out single by Jason Castro. Fowler scored on an error by Ventura with two outs on a pickoff attempt to first base to tie it at 1-1.
Infante grounded into a forceout that scored Cain, who had led off the inning with a single, to make it 2-1 in the third inning. Hosmer followed with an RBI double to push the lead to 3-1.
A single by Nori Aoki followed by a pair of walks loaded the bases for Kansas City with one out in the fifth, and Butler’s sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 4-1.
NOTES: The series continues Wednesday when Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie opposes left-hander Dallas Keuchel. … Houston manager Bo Porter wasn’t feeling well Tuesday, but said he was much better than he was a day before when he spent the day in bed fighting off what he called "a bug." … The Astros celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Tuesday with a pregame reception where children from the Astros Urban Youth Academy had a chance to meet Houston players including Fowler, L.J. Hoes, Jerome Williams and Chris Carter.