KANSAS CITY -- Matt Carpenter homered and seven Cardinals drove in runs in an 8-4 win over the Royals on Tuesday night to even the I-70 Series at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals, who have dealt with several injuries to key players, had another scare as center fielder Lorenzo Cain left the game in the seventh inning after straining his left hamstring.
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"The docs are going to look at [Cain]. We'll evaluate him [Wednesday]," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Obviously it's a hamstring strain. To what degree, we don't know."
The Cardinals remained 10 games behind the Cubs, while the Royals fell to six back of the red-hot Indians, who won their 11th straight on Tuesday. For the Cardinals, Tuesday's victory made them 5-3 on this three-city road trip.
"We usually look at everything very strategically, one [game] at a time," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But as you review going into Chicago, going to Seattle, coming here, and coming out 5-3, that's a good trip. This was a tough ask. It's been a tough month."
While he had to maneuver in and out of trouble, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha picked up the win, giving up four runs (three earned) in six innings to extend his streak of quality starts to four.
In his first game back from an eight-game suspension, Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura struggled with his control. He needed more than 40 pitches to get through the first two innings, at which point he'd already given up three runs. He ended up allowing seven runs in 5 1/3 innings to fall to 6-5.
"I felt a little weird at times, just because of the layoff, but it's not an excuse," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I'll continue to work in between starts and get back after it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Carpenter connects: The Cardinals second baseman, who should be a lock for the National League All-Star team, continued his torrid month of June by tallying another two extra-base hits and reaching base four times. Carpenter's leadoff homer in the fifth helped pad a lead that had shrunk to one. Carpenter remains the Majors' OPS leader and has now reached base in 19 of his last 20 games. More >
"I don't feel any different now than I did in early April, but it's all coming together," said Carpenter, who has a .447 average and 11 RBIs in 12 career games at Kauffman Stadium.
Can't cash in: After not being able to capitalize with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, the Royals moved runners into scoring position in the fourth, sixth and ninth innings. However, they only managed two runs, stranding nine runners.
"[We] went down battling. That's all you can ask for [from] the team." Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
The Royals loaded the bases again in the ninth inning with one out, with Alex Gordon pinch-hitting for Jarrod Dyson, who came on to replace Cain. However, Gordon popped out and Hosmer grounded into a forceout to end the game.
"[We] made it real exciting in the ninth inning," Yost said. "Just couldn't make anything happen."
Escape act: After allowing the Royals to score twice in the second, Wacha nearly coughed up the rest of his early lead in the third. But after watching the Royals use three singles to load the bases with one out, he induced a forceout at home plate and then a flyout to escape the inning. The work helped Wacha notch a fourth consecutive quality start. He has a 2.63 ERA during that span.
"That was big time getting out of the third with the bases loaded," Wacha said. "I felt like it was important to keep our team in the lead, and I was fortunate enough [first baseman Matt] Adams made a great play over there to get the lead runner at home, and I was able to get that last out."
Within an arm's length: While the Cardinals did their scoring in bursts, the Royals responded almost instantly each time the game started to get out of reach. After the Cardinals went up, 3-0, in the second inning, the Royals came right back with two runs. They did the same when the Cardinals went up, 8-2, in the sixth, as Cheslor Cuthbert drove in Kendrys Morales and Paulo Orlando.
"The offense was swinging that bat well at home," Hosmer said.
Yost credited Christian Colon's hit to keep things close early on. Colon made the start as Whit Merrifield moved over to left field to fill in for Gordon.
"[We] capitalized in the second inning," Yost said. "C.C. got a big hit there to get us that second run."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals used a challenge to help secure the second out of the seventh inning. Cain, initially credited with an infield single, was ruled out following a review.
In the top of the third inning, Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez was ejected from the bench by home-plate umpire Tim Timmons. It was Volquez's second career ejection, with the other incident coming against the White Sox in Chicago on April 23, 2015.
"It wasn't really much barking," Yost said. "[He] just yelled something and boom."
As for what Volquez said:
"All I said was, 'Let's go man!'" Volquez said.
Cardinals: After a stretch of playing 21 of 29 games on the road, the St. Louis returns to Busch Stadium on Wednesday for the start of a 10-game homestand. Right-hander Carlos Martinez, who is 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his last five starts, will start the opener of a two-game set against the Royals at 7:15 p.m. CT.
Royals: Volquez (7-7, 5.15 ERA) will take the mound as the I-70 Series shifts to St. Louis, where the Royals have lost three straight. Volquez will look to bounce back from a rough start against the Astros on June 24, as he allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in one inning.
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