KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals were glad to get seven innings out of Jeremy Guthrie on a hot muggy night when their offense couldn’t get anything going.
Guthrie went longer than it appeared he would after giving up 10 hits and four runs in the first four innings in Kansas City’s 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night.
"He did a great job getting us through seven innings," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had the little rough innings in the third and fourth, they scored two runs. Got a couple of pitches up where they barreled the ball. But they got a couple of pitches where he made his pitch, too, and fought them off in broken-bat singles that resulted in two runs. But (Scott) Kazmir was the story."
While Guthrie was struggling, Kazmir was nearly unhittable as he limited the Royals to three singles over seven innings in his Astros debut.
The 31-year-old left-hander let only one Kansas City runner past first base — Mike Moustakas in the fourth. Kazmir (6-5), who lowered his ERA to 2.24, retired the final nine batters he faced.
"Same thing that always makes him effective," said Eric Hosmer, who singled in the ninth after Kazmir departed. "He has three above-average pitches. He has that lefty-lefty changeup that really keeps you off-balance. He really takes a lot of speed off of it. He attacks you with all three of the pitches. … He was really in, out, up, down. He was painting the plate real good."
It was a performance Yost could admire, but not enjoy.
"He really handled us with fastballs and changeups," Yost said. "But changing speeds … his fastball was 93-95. His changeup was 74 to 80. A lot of variation there. Really commanded the ball well, kept the ball down. Busted us in when we started looking away and off-speeded us down and away when we were looking in."
Kazmir, acquired by the Astros from Oakland on Thursday for two minor leaguers, hasn’t lost a July start since July 10, 2010, going 7-0 in his past 14 starts in the month.
"It’s nice to get the first one out of the way," Kazmir said. "When you have a defense like I had behind me, especially what you see the first couple of innings, you have a lot of confidence out there. I just pitched to contact."
Preston Tucker had three of the Astros’ hits, including his fourth home run in five games — a solo shot in the third inning. Colby Rasmus singled home Carlos Correa later in the inning to make it 2-0.
Correa, a 20-year-old rookie who extended his hitting streak to nine games, and Jose Altuve each singled home a run in the fourth inning.
Left-hander Tony Sipp walked Moustakas and gave up a single to Hosmer in the ninth, which prompted manager A.J. Hinch to summon closer Luke Gregerson for the final two outs. Gregerson logged his 21st save in 24 opportunities, getting Kendrys Morales to ground into a game-ending double play.
Guthrie (7-6) gave up four runs on 11 hits, matching his season high, and two walks in seven innings. It was the eighth time this season and his third straight start Guthrie has allowed at least eight hits.
"It was like it always is, for the most part, nothing real different," Guthrie said of his stuff. "I was able to cut it pretty good. Got in on a couple of guys, even the ball Rasmus hit out in right field for an RBI single. I felt like I stayed out of the middle of the plate better than I have the last couple of starts. But overall, you’ve got to make pitches with runners on base and try to limit the damage."
The Royals are 0-4 against the Astros this season.
Astros: INF Jed Lowrie (ligament right thumb tear) has begun a rehab assignment with Double A Corpus Christi.
Royals: LF Alex Gordon (left groin strain) has started a throwing program, but Yost said Gordon is a ways off before returning.
Astros: RHP Scott Feldman will be making his second start since May 26 and going on the disabled list after knee surgery.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy lost to the Astros on June 30, allowing four runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.