ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Jorge Lopez, making his second start for the Royals, was without question much sharper than when he gave up six runs in his Royals debut.
This time, Lopez worked through some traffic on the bases but provided five serviceable innings in the Royals' 1-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday night.
Lopez was nicked for five hits, mostly of the soft-contact variety -- they included a bunt single and two infield hits. Lopez walked three and struck out three.
"I feel much better [this time out]," Lopez said. "The emotions, everything, the plan when we go out there, we just had a really good connection as a team."
The only run Lopez surrendered came in the second. With one out, a bunt single by Ji-Man Choi, a fielder's choice and a single by Kevin Kiermaier put runners at the corners with two outs.
Lopez looked to be out of trouble when Willy Adames grounded out softly to third. But the Rays challenged the out call at first and the play was overturned, extending the inning and allowing a run to score.
"I thought [Lopez] did a good job," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He got his pitch count a little elevated. But I also thought he had a lot of pitches that could have gone his way but didn't that would have changed some situations. He could have gotten quicker decisions [on hitters]. They were pitches that could have gone either way.
"But I thought he threw the ball extremely well. The one run they got was on a bunt and an infield hit."
Lopez agreed about missing on some borderline pitches, saying, "Yeah, for sure, everything was close. I was making pitches. I walked two guys, three guys, but I was making pitches, everything was close and where I wanted it. That's why I feel like it was a battle today."
Lopez, who threw 95 pitches with 57 for strikes, worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third by getting Joey Wendle to ground out.
"The guys just went up there and fouled, fouled, fouled," Lopez said of the Rays. "When you've got guys like that you've got to keep making pitches and see what happens. I feel everything was good. My rhythm, timing, was good."
Right-hander Jake Newberry made his Major League debut for the Royals in the sixth inning. Newberry pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
"Jake came in and did a good job," Yost said. "He gave us two good innings for the most part."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Royals had an excellent chance to do some damage in the fourth off Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Salvador Perez led off with a double, and Lucas Duda drew a walk. But Jorge Bonifacio got called out on a questionable third strike, and Ryan O'Hearn and Rosell Herrera both went down swinging, ending the threat.
HE SAID IT
"That's the first time we've seen the 'opener' in a game. It makes sense because Yarbrough gets hit better the third time through the lineup. I think [the Rays] do a good job of managing what they've got." -- Royals outfielder Alex Gordon
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Royals review specialist Bill Duplissea was spot-on in challenging a safe call when Perez attempted a pickoff at second base on baserunner Kiermaier The safe call was overturned after review and Duplissea now is 24-for-31 in challenges, the best percentage (77 percent) in Major League Baseball.
For Perez, it was his third pickoff this season, and 22nd of his career, the most among catchers in MLB since 2011.
Right-hander Glenn Sparkman (0-1, 4.95 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in Game 2 of the series against Tampa Bay at 6:10 p.m. CT Tuesday. Left-hander Blake Snell (14-5, 2.10 ERA) will pitch for the Rays. Sparkman, who will be making his second career start, received a no-decision Thursday against Toronto, allowing two runs and four hits over four innings.