ST. LOUIS -- It took almost two months, but the Royals finally won their first road series of 2018.Andrew Butera lined a two-run single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to lift the Royals to a hard-earned 5-2 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber
ST. LOUIS -- It took almost two months, but the Royals finally won their first road series of 2018.
Andrew Butera lined a two-run single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to lift the Royals to a hard-earned 5-2 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber game of the I-70 Series at Busch Stadium.
"It's always important [to win this series]," Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "We take this series a little more [importantly] just because of the rivalry and the crowd, and the energy. It's always a tough place to play. Nice to come away with two wins."
Added Butera, "That was nice. We needed that. We fought hard all three games and guys did a great job on both ends. And our bullpen did a great job."
The Royals loaded the bases in the 10th with none out on singles by Jorge Soler and Gordon, and an error on Cards right-hander Bud Norris, who muffed a sacrifice bunt attempt by Alcides Escobar.
Butera got ahead in the count, 3-0, then he lined a 3-1 fastball into right-center field.
"I was looking for something up in the zone," Butera said. "I needed to get the ball in the outfield, so I was looking for something to drive. I got a pitch out over the plate."
Royals manager Ned Yost was impressed with Butera's patient approach.
"That's a tough spot to be in right there," Yost said. "You don't want to expand [the zone], you don't want to chase. He was perfect, didn't try to do too much with it. I mean, it was just classic clutch hitting right there and just drive the ball back up the middle."
Trailing, 2-1, in the sixth, the Royals tied it when pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte singled, advanced to second on left fielder Tyler O'Neill's fielding error and eventually scored on Whit Merrifield's sacrifice fly to center.
Right-hander Jakob Junis was effective for five innings before being removed for a pinch-hitter. Junis got nicked for two runs in the second inning, the last coming in when No. 8 hitter Francisco Pena slapped a hanging slider to left for a two-out double that scored Jedd Gyorko.
Junis gave up five hits, walked one and struck out seven.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Junis got into a bit of trouble in the fifth, but he relied on his money pitch to escape any damage. Pena led off with an end-of-the-bat soft liner that bounced off Junis' left leg and rolled in between first and second base for an infield hit. After a sacrifice bunt, Tommy Pham grounded out. Junis pitched carefully to Matt Carpenter and wound up walking him after a 3-2 sinker missed low. Junis fell behind Jose Martinez, 3-1, but he threw a slider for a strike. With the count full, Junis threw another wicked, sweeping slider and Martinez chased it out of the zone.
Royals All-Star and Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez made his first start at first base since 2013. Perez, who homered in the game, didn't get any grounder or popup opportunities in the field.
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The defensive play of the game was authored by Gordon, who in the seventh inning robbed Pena with a diving catch to take away an extra-base hit. More >
"On the road, late in the game, you have to make plays like that," said Gordon, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner. "If you don't, Pena's not the fastest guy, but you have a guy on second with [one] out."
Left-hander Danny Duffy (1-6, 6.88 ERA) will start and try to turn his season around as the Royals continue the road trip with the start of a four-game set at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Duffy gave up five runs over four innings on Saturday against the Yankees. He is 1-2 with a 3.25 ERA in his career against Texas.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.