KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kendrys Morales is leading the American League with 37 RBIs. A year ago, he wasn’t even playing — he was waiting for an offer as a free agent.
Morales hit two home runs and had five RBIs, Chris Young gave up six hits in six innings and the Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 Friday night.
Morales hit a three-run homer with two out in the first. He homered again in the third with Lorenzo Cain aboard for his 13th multi-homer game. The five RBIs matched a Royals’ season high.
"I wasn’t even playing this time last year," Morales said through an interpreter. "I didn’t know I was leading the league in RBIs. That’s the first I heard of it."
Morales finally signed with the Twins June 8. He signed a two-year, free-agent deal with Kansas City in the offseason.
The Royals improved to 27-14, the best record in the majors, while the Cardinals dropped to 27-15, best in the National League.
Young (4-0) got 13 flyball outs and struck out two. In Young’s four starts, he has allowed one earned run in 22 1/3 innings (0.40 ERA).
"There were some hairy moments there and fortunately I was able to get out of them," Young said.
"Whether I’m at my best or not at my best, I don’t care as long as the team wins the game."
Royals starters Young, Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie have combined to throw 26 shutout innings while allowing 18 hits in the past four games.
Young, who beat the Cardinals for the first time in his career, gave up all singles and walked two, while stranding seven runners. He threw a season-high 106 pitches.
Morales and Salvador Perez combined for six of the Royals’ 11 hits.
Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (3-4), who had won his previous two starts, was pulled after six innings, allowing five runs and 10 hits.
"Two pitches cost me five runs," Lynn said. "In the first inning it was right where I wanted but he put a good swing on it. The second one was a slider that kind of backed up and he put another good swing on it. He’s somebody I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t know how to approach him."
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the eighth on a hit batter, a walk and a single off reliever Ryan Madson, but came away empty. Madson got out of the inning by retiring Jason Heywood on a fielder’s choice to second baseman Omar Infante.
St. Louis stranded 13 and went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals were shut out for the second straight day, losing 5-0 Thursday to the New York Mets.
"This is not a game we should be shut out," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "You’re going to have those nights but this shouldn’t have been one of them."
GOLD GLOVE PLAY
Royals SS Alcides Escobar made a diving stop of Matt Adams hard grounder and from his back threw out Matt Holliday at second base in the eighth inning. "That’s really a good play," Escobar said. "I surprised myself on that one."
Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog, who managed the Royals to three division titles, 1976-78, and the Cardinals from 1980-1990 and three National League pennants, was honored in a pregame ceremony. "It would be great if there is another I-70 World Series," Herzog said. "Both are capable of getting there. I think they both have a great chance. That’s not saying it’s going to happen because of all the crazy things that happen in the playoffs." The Royals beat the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.
Cardinals: OF John Jay (left wrist tendinitis) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Tuesday.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (stiff shoulder) will be skipped from a Saturday start. … LHP Jason Vargas (flexor strain) threw 45 pitches in a three-inning simulated game Friday.
Cards: RHP John Lackey, who starts Saturday, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four road starts.