KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Cardinals manager Mike Matheny could have come up with more promising road trips than one against the red-hot Cubs and World Series champion Royals, with a long flight to Seattle smashed right in between.
The fact that St. Louis won five of eight left him grinning like a schoolboy.
"That’s a good trip. This was a tough ask," Matheny said after an 8-4 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday night evened their four-game, two-city series. "This has been a tough month, a lot of games on the road."
Just about everybody in the Cardinals lineup contributed to the offense, while Michael Wacha (4-7) allowed four runs over six bumpy innings — he served up nine hits and three walks.
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.
Meanwhile, Yordano Ventura (6-5) allowed seven runs on seven hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 1/3 innings for Kansas City. Ventura had only allowed one run over his last two starts, both of which came before an eight-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing brawl during a game June 7 in Baltimore.
As if things weren’t bad enough for Kansas City, Lorenzo Cain grabbed his left hamstring while trying to beat out an infield hit in the seventh inning. The All-Star outfielder left the game and declined to speak to reporters in the clubhouse, though he was 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."
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.
Wong jokes of the tag that accidentally hit him in face: "I boxed back in the day, so I know how to take a punch."https://t.co/N2zfvNeFhB
Ventura’s night was done in the sixth, when another hit and walk brought Yost ambling from the dugout. Carpenter provided an RBI double and Brandon Moss and Matt Holliday made it 8-2 before reliever Brian Flynn finally got the Royals out of the inning.
Kansas City 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 manager Mike 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.