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Hammel baffles Cards for first win in I-70 tilt

Righty fires 7 strong innings as Gordon, Salvy launch HRs
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

ST. LOUIS -- The Royals needed their veterans to step up in a big way. And that's exactly what happened on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

Right-hander Jason Hammel authored the Royals' best outing by a starter in nearly three weeks, tossing seven innings of one-run ball, and Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon each homered in a 5-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 2 of the I-70 Series. The Royals had lost three straight and eight of nine coming in.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Royals needed their veterans to step up in a big way. And that's exactly what happened on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

Right-hander Jason Hammel authored the Royals' best outing by a starter in nearly three weeks, tossing seven innings of one-run ball, and Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon each homered in a 5-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 2 of the I-70 Series. The Royals had lost three straight and eight of nine coming in.

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Hammel, who had given up 25 runs in his last four starts, scattered nine hits, walked none and struck out six. The last Royals start this good was Ian Kennedy throwing six shutout innings against the Tigers on May 4.

"I've been working hard on the side trying to figure out what I've been doing wrong," Hammel said. "I'm really trying to incorporate my lower half and use my legs instead of my arm. My last bullpen, I really worked on executing down. It really worked tonight."

Hammel got his first win since Sept. 6, 2017.

"I honestly feel like I forgot how to celebrate a win afterward," he said. "It feels pretty good."

Video: KC@STL: Perez crushes a solo home run to left-center

Perez also was superb defensively, throwing out two runners on strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double plays that squelched potential rallies.

"I think that's just part of the game," Perez said. "If they give me a good time to home plate, I think I can do my job."

Video: KC@STL: Royals' 2nd strike-'em out, throw-'em out DP

Added Royals manager Ned Yost,"Salvy had a fantastic game, and those were big spots. I mean, when he threw those two runners out, ended the inning with a double play. Those were huge spots for us."

Gordon snapped a 2-for-23 skid with three hits, including his fourth home run in the second inning that tied the score at 1.

Video: KC@STL: Gordon hammers a solo home run to center

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Hammel looked like he was out of the first inning with no damage but a rare misplay by third baseman Mike Moustakas cost him a run. With two out, Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna singled, with Martinez taking third. With Tyler O'Neill batting, Ozuna started to take off for second base. Perez pump-faked a throw to second, and Martinez got trapped off of third base. Perez threw to Moustakas to start the rundown, and Martinez should have been an easy out. But Moustakas dropped Perez's throw and Martinez made it home safely.

Video: KC@STL: Martinez steals home for game's first run

HE SAID IT
"When you abandon one side it's easy to hit through. I'm completely against the shift, as of today. Very frustrating. You're expected to make pitches and when you make a pitch, you expect someone to be there to field it. If I had a whole side to hit through I could do it, too … I'm probably going to get backlash tomorrow, but I'm tired of it." -- Hammel, on several soft singles that went through open spots of the shift

UP NEXT
Royals right-hander Jakob Junis (5-3, 3.51 ERA) will take the mound for the Royals at 12:15 p.m. CT on Wednesday in the I-70 Series finale at Busch Stadium. Right-hander Michael Wacha (5-1, 3.08) starts for the Cardinals. Junis got the win on Friday over the Yankees as he went 5 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and two runs.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon, Jason Hammel, Salvador Perez