Cardinals-Royals Preview

Kendrys Morales hadn’t faced St. Louis in more than 20 months before Friday, but not much has changed – he still loves hitting against the Cardinals.

He’ll look to power the Kansas City Royals to a fifth straight victory Saturday night against St. Louis.

Morales went 3 for 5 with his fifth and sixth home runs of the season and five RBIs in a 5-0 victory. He’s 12 for 26 with four homers, two doubles and nine runs driven in seven career meetings, and Friday’s was his first since Sept. 15, 2013.

Morales has 14 RBIs in his last 10 games, pushing his season total to an AL-best 37 and helping the Royals (27-14) overtake St. Louis (27-15) for the majors’ best record.

"I didn’t know I was leading the league in RBIs," he said through an interpreter. "That’s the first I heard of it."

Salvador Perez was 3 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to eight games, while Lorenzo Cain, who had been 7 for 35 in his last nine, was 2 for 4.

The Cardinals were shut out for a second straight game, but unlike Thursday’s 5-0 loss to the New York Mets, they couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. They recorded 11 hits after being held to two by New York, but were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position to match their worst performance of the season in those situations.

"This is not a game we should be shut out," manager Mike Matheny. "You’re going to have those nights but this shouldn’t have been one of them."

St. Louis hasn’t been blanked in three straight games since Oct. 2-3, 1976, but it looks like a possibility given how good Edinson Volquez (3-3, 2.74 ERA) has been. He scattered three hits over seven innings in a 6-0 win Sunday against the New York Yankees.

Kansas City is 5-3 with Volquez on the mound, with a lack of run support largely to blame in the losses, as he was backed with four runs over 19 1-3 innings.

"It’s fun to just sit back and watch him deal," Eric Hosmer told MLB’s official website. "And then all we have to do is get some runs and you know we can win."

Volquez was very familiar with the Cardinals last year, going 1-1 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts against them for Pittsburgh.

Kansas City starters have given up 18 hits and four walks over 26 scoreless innings during the winning streak.

John Lackey (2-2, 2.96) seeks his first road win in seven starts going back to August and is 1-5 with a 5.31 ERA in his last 10 on the road. He did his part opposite Matt Harvey at Citi Field on Monday, limiting the Mets to one run and three hits over seven innings, but received no run support for the second straight game in the club’s 2-1, 14-inning loss.

Perhaps frustrated by the lack of offense or that the only run came on a seeing-eye single, Lackey declined to speak to reporters afterward.

The right-hander is 3-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 matchups with Kansas City. Alex Gordon is 6 for 13 with a home run and two doubles off Lackey.