ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Karns' pitching and a healthy dose of offense led the Royals to a 7-3 win over the Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field.Karns, who spent two seasons with the Rays, allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while matching a career-high 10 strikeouts
ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Karns' pitching and a healthy dose of offense led the Royals to a 7-3 win over the Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Karns, who spent two seasons with the Rays, allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while matching a career-high 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings en route to his second win of the season.
"I followed [catcher Andrew Butera] all game back there," Karns said. "I think I shook him off maybe one time. He had a good feel for them and I just followed his glove around the whole game."
Kansas City scored three times in the third. Butera led off the inning with his first home run of the season. The Royals followed with four consecutive hits, including Lorenzo Cain's single that got past Rays Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and rolled to the wall allowing two runs to score to give the Royals a 3-1 lead.
The Royals pushed the lead to 4-1 in the fifth when Eric Hosmer doubled and scored on a one-out single by Salvador Perez. Butera singled home another off Austin Pruitt in the sixth and they scored twice in the seventh to push the lead to 7-1.
The Royals' seven runs matched a season high, and their 13 hits established a season high.
"We've been looking for our offense to break loose a little bit," Hosmer said. "We're trying to get back to the things that make us good as a team and that's playing good defense, timely hitting, and doing the little things on offense to get guys over and get guys in. We did a lot of that tonight."
Blake Snell started for the Rays and took his third loss of the season after allowing four runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out two in five innings, plus one batter. Snell's lackluster performance was accompanied by the Rays' shoddy defense that committed four errors.
"It's one of those you're happy it's over with," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We didn't play very well, obviously. We didn't do anything well. We didn't catch the ball, we didn't throw the ball. We didn't hit. None of it. It'll be a good day to come in and recharge a little bit and look forward to playing tomorrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Great escapes:Colby Rasmus tripled to lead off the Rays' second, then Karns fanned in order Timothy Beckham, Kiermaier, and Derek Norris to end the inning. If that wasn't enough, Karns walked Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller to start the third and Evan Longoria followed with a single to load the bases. Karns then struck out Logan Morrison before getting Steven Souza Jr., to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Rare Kiermaier error: Cain singled to center with a runner on second and none out in the third. Typically, that well could have ended in a play at the plate given the fact that Kiermaier's arm normally makes plays at the plate interesting. This time the ball got past Kiermaier and rolled to the wall, allowing Cain to round the bases and the Royals to take a 3-1 lead. For Kiermaier, the rare error was his second of the season. The Royals never trailed after the play. More >
"You have to credit Nate Karns. He did a really nice job. He had a really good fastball going and pitched off the curveball. The curveball was the equalizer today and then he popped in fastballs when he wanted. Very similar to some of the outings we saw from him years ago when he was with us." -- Cash, on Karns' outing
"It felt like our brand of baseball. We were grinding out at-bats, getting on base, taking some bags, and put pressure on the pitcher and catcher and the defense." -- Butera, on returning to style of play that made the Royals successful in previous seasons
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After going 14 consecutive games without a stolen base, the Royals have five thefts in the last two games, including four against the Rays. Hosmer got his first two steals of the season in the series opener.
Souza had to leave the game after the seventh inning due to a thumb injury. X-rays were negative and the Rays' right fielder told reporters that the injury was nothing more than a jammed thumb.
Royals: Going with a committee approach on the mound for Game 2 of the four-game series at Tropicana Field, Christopher Young (0-0, 4.22 ERA) will be the first to take the ball for the Royals at 6:10 p.m. CT. Young is coming off his longest outing of the season after throwing three innings of one-hit relief against the White Sox.
Rays: Right-hander Matt Andriese (2-1, 3.09) will start the 7:10 p.m. ET contest against the Royals and hopes to again go deep. He has gone seven innings in consecutive starts for the second time in his career. The only other Rays starter to go seven-plus innings in consecutive starts this season was Chris Archer.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Royals on Monday.