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Vargas first in MLB to 11 wins for red-hot KC

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Jason Vargas outdueled right-hander Marco Estrada for his MLB-leading 11th win as the Royals beat the Blue Jays, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Vargas, whose 2.29 ERA ranks third in the Majors, allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out a pair. The Royals have now won five straight series and are 15-6 in June. Vargas has been a critical part of that, as he allowed a combined eight runs in five wins this month.
 

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KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Jason Vargas outdueled right-hander Marco Estrada for his MLB-leading 11th win as the Royals beat the Blue Jays, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Vargas, whose 2.29 ERA ranks third in the Majors, allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out a pair. The Royals have now won five straight series and are 15-6 in June. Vargas has been a critical part of that, as he allowed a combined eight runs in five wins this month.
 

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Video: MLB Tonight talks about Vargas' 11th win of season

"[Vargas] has done a phenomenal job of messing with the hitter's timing, both with location and change of speeds," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Video: TOR@KC: Pillar slugs a solo homer to left field

Vargas gave up a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning on a solo home run -- one of two he allowed -- to Kevin Pillar, but the Royals soon retook the lead when Alex Gordon tripled off Estrada to score Alcides Escobar, who finished 3-for-3. Royals closer Kelvin Herrera earned his 18th save.

Escobar, Gordon surging along with Royals

Video: TOR@KC: Herrera forces a groundout to earn the save

Estrada pitched well in the game, going seven innings and allowing three runs while striking out six, but Gordon's triple handed him the loss.

"Marco was really good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He looked like the old [Estrada] and went deep into the game. But we couldn't get much going offensively. Vargas is tough. He's leading the league in wins, and you can see why."

Video: TOR@KC: Estrada K's six through seven strong frames

Troy Tulowitzki hit a solo homer, his first home run since May 29, but the Blue Jays couldn't mount a sustained attack against Vargas.

"[Vargas] knows how to pitch," Tulowitzki said. "He knows what he's doing out there."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Inning-ender: Trailing, 2-1, the Blue Jays threatened in the fifth when Pillar and Darwin Barney both singled to start the inning. But while trying to bunt, Luke Maile popped up and Salvador Perez caught the ball, prohibiting the Blue Jays from advancing. Vargas then induced Jose Bautista to ground into a double play, ending the inning without a run scoring. It was one of two double plays the Blue Jays hit into.

Video: TOR@KC: Escobar turns two on Bautista's grounder

Gordo's go-ahead triple: After Toronto tied the game in the top of the seventh, Gordon gave the Royals the lead with his first triple of the season in the bottom part of the frame. With Escobar on first, Gordon smacked a ball into the right-field corner, scoring Escobar to retake the lead. It was Gordon's first triple since Sept. 20, 2016.

Video: TOR@KC: Gordon plates Escobar with a triple to right

"Gordon's triple was big because Vargas was pitching his tail off," Yost said. "He ends up giving the home run in the seventh, and you really want to give him an opportunity to get that win."

QUOTABLE
"Escobar has been scuffling a little bit with the bat, but he's a good player. He puts the ball in play, and he's a heck of a shortstop." -- Gibbons, on Escobar's 3-for-3 day

Video: TOR@KC: Escobar on the series win over the Blue Jays

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Escobar tagged and scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Whit Merrifield in the third inning, but the Blue Jays challenged the call. After a two-minute, 16-second review, the call stood, and the Royals tied the game at 1.

Video: TOR@KC: Merrifield's sacrifice fly plates Escobar

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-3, 5.76 ERA) gets the call for the final game of the series Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET. Liriano has been plagued by walks, allowing a team-high 30 in 50 innings. Opponents are hitting .270 against him.

Royals: In the final game of this series against the Blue Jays, right-hander Jason Hammel (4-6, 4.83 ERA) will head to the mound Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. In four June starts, Hammel is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA. He's pitched at least 6 2/3 innings in each of those outings.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas city who covered the Royals on Saturday.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City who covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.