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Smith struggles, bats run cold in loss to Cards

Rookie right-hander surrenders 5 runs in 1 2/3 innings of work
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Royals rookie right-hander Burch Smith's struggles continue to mount.

In fact, Smith offered up his shortest starting stint to date in six tries. Smith lasted only 1 2/3 innings and gave up six hits and five runs in a 7-0 loss to the Cardinals on Friday at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have lost seven of eight.

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KANSAS CITY -- Royals rookie right-hander Burch Smith's struggles continue to mount.

In fact, Smith offered up his shortest starting stint to date in six tries. Smith lasted only 1 2/3 innings and gave up six hits and five runs in a 7-0 loss to the Cardinals on Friday at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have lost seven of eight.

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In his last three starts, Smith has given up 16 runs over 10 2/3 innings and his ERA as a starter ballooned to 9.68. His overall ERA rose to 6.97.

"He just wasn't sharp," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Smith. "And they didn't let him get away with any mistakes. Pitches that caught too much of the plate, they did damage with."

Smith had difficulty commanding his curveball from the start. Paul DeJong blasted a home run off a 1-2 curveball from Smith leading off the second, DeJong's 11th this season. After a walk, Smith got two outs but gave up an RBI single to Harrison Bader on another hanging curveball.

"Everything [was off]," Smith said. "I was not commanding any pitches. ... I didn't have anything working, and they were capitalizing on mistakes. They're good hitters."

Matt Carpenter followed by ripping a 1-0 four-seam fastball into the fountains in right-center field, and it was 4-0. Yadier Molina then doubled, and that was it for Smith.

Video: STL@KC: Sparkman punches out Carpenter in the 4th

Right-handed reliever Glenn Sparkman did a fine job sparing the bullpen, going 4 1/3 innings and giving up two runs.

"My hope at that point was (Sparkman) could give us 3 1/3 innings," Yost said. "So he did a phenomenal job. And I tried to push him, tried to get a couple more outs out of him, but he was really laboring at that point. He saved us. He allowed us to get through that without having to use half the bullpen."

Meanwhile, the Royals' offense sputtered against Cardinals right-handed starter Austin Gomber, who breezed through five scoreless innings.

"His fastball was OK," Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio said. "But his cutter was really good. It would come in and look hittable, and then it'd be right on your hands."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Royals had a great chance in the third inning to do some damage. Adalberto Mondesi led off with a triple to right-center. But Ryan O'Hearn struck out and Whit Merrifield flied out to short center field. Rosell Herrera then drew a walk and Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. But Hunter Dozier flied out harmlessly to right field, ending the threat.

Video: STL@KC: Mondesi hustles to third with leadoff triple

HE SAID IT
"Probably not right now. We really like what he's doing. We really do. But we like him coming out of the 'pen right now. Down the road, will we look at him as a starter? Probably next spring, yeah, we will. He throws strikes. He comes in and attacks and has good stuff. But probably not right now." -- Yost, on if the Royals will take a look at Sparkman in the rotation

UP NEXT
Left-hander Danny Duffy (7-10, 4.70 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in Game 2 of the I-70 series against the Cardinals at 6:15 p.m. CT Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Jack Flaherty (5-6, 3.27) will pitch for the Cardinals. Duffy will make his 25th start, tying him for the Major League lead. Duffy took the loss Sunday against the Twins, giving up six runs and eight hits over six innings in a 6-5 defeat.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Burch Smith