The Royals fell to the Rangers, 7-2, in the series opener at Rangers Ballpark. Kansas City was surely lagging after arriving to its hotel in Texas at 7 a.m. CT Friday morning following a 4-2 win over the Cardinals that ended nearly four hours earlier.
"You can't make that excuse, but I know everyone in here is exhausted for sure," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said.
Kansas City starter Wade Davis, who took the loss, allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings. He struck out eight batters on 105 pitches, falling to 3-5 with a 6.16 ERA. He's now 0-3 with a 17.18 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers.
The Royals jumped out to an early lead in the third, when Alcides Escobar's one-out single plated Adam Moore for a 1-0 lead.
But they couldn't add on to their lead. With runners on second and third, Lorenzo Cain grounded out to Rangers starter Derek Holland and Escobar was ruled out on a grounder to third by Billy Butler for interfering with Adrian Beltre.
"That's part of the reason why we've been struggling," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You get second and third with one out. We take the lead, have an opportunity to tack some on, and we just couldn't. They're giving us a run playing the infield back and we couldn't take advantage of it."
In the bottom of the third, Davis gave up three straight singles with two outs to David Murphy, Lance Berkman and Beltre, who plated Murphy to tie the game. Davis then allowed a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz on a 3-1 pitch to make it, 4-1.
Davis said he intended to throw a fastball up and in on Cruz, knowing he'd swing and possibly pop it up. Instead, the right-hander left it over the middle of the plate.
"I had a lot of hits get through today on weak contact," Davis said. "Ground balls got through today and put me in a bad spot, and a home run to Cruz was unfortunate. Especially the way we've been playing right now, it [stinks] to put them in a hole like that."
The Royals never found their way out of that hole due to an impressive performance by Holland. The lefty allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits in seven innings. Holland collected eight strikeouts and gave up just one walk.
Holland's unearned run occurred in the sixth. Butler singled to left, but he advanced to second base on a fielding error by Murphy. Eric Hosmer drove Butler home on the next at-bat with a single to trim the deficit to 4-2.
"Holland pitched good," Butler said. "Holland's got great stuff. Every facet of the game we got beat. This is an easy one. We've had a lot of one-run games this season, so this one is just shake it off, come back tomorrow and just play."
Yost left Davis in to face Mitch Moreland and A.J. Pierzynski and the skipper planned to bring in reliever Bruce Chen after both at-bats. Moreland singled to right and Pierzynski doubled off the top of the wall in center. A quick replay review confirmed the double.
"I was trying to throw a slider down and away to get him to roll over, and it flattened out," Davis said.
Chen walked Jurickson Profar and allowed a double to Leonys Martin, which scored Moreland and Pierzynski.
Royals reliever Luke Hochevar gave up a solo shot to Beltre in the seventh -- his fourth hit of the game -- to put the Rangers up, 7-2. Beltre went 4-for-4 as the Royals pitchers yielded 14 hits.
"We've had frustrating games in the past," Butler said. "We just got beat tonight."
It's been a frustrating month for the Royals, who once resided atop the American League Central. They finished the month with an 8-20 record, dropping 13 of their last 15 games, while scoring a total of 22 runs in their last 10 games.
"The best way to describe it is, I'm glad it's over," Yost said.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com.