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KC undone by big inning, loses finale in Houston

AL West leaders make Royals starter Hammel pay for control issues
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

HOUSTON -- Unlike the first two games of the series, in which the Royals battled the Astros to the finish, winning 1-0 and losing 4-3 in 12 innings, this one was over quickly.

Royals starter Jason Hammel, who had a 2.89 ERA over his last six starts, never found his groove Sunday at Minute Maid Park, surrendering eight runs in the second inning, and the Astros ran away with the win, 11-3, to take the series.

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HOUSTON -- Unlike the first two games of the series, in which the Royals battled the Astros to the finish, winning 1-0 and losing 4-3 in 12 innings, this one was over quickly.

Royals starter Jason Hammel, who had a 2.89 ERA over his last six starts, never found his groove Sunday at Minute Maid Park, surrendering eight runs in the second inning, and the Astros ran away with the win, 11-3, to take the series.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's already out of my mind," Hammel said. "In the past, I'd really be frustrated with it. It's a loss and it's unacceptable, but I'd like to think this is a blip on the radar, especially with the way I pitched the last two innings. I do have to start using my changeup more. … Nine walks in the last two outings. I have to get back in the strike zone and be more aggressive."

Hammel walked three batters in the second and gave up two hits to Yuli Gurriel, the second of which was a grand slam that made it 8-0.

"Hard to wrap your head around [that inning]," Hammel said. "Eight runs on basically two swings. But [the] walks. You put guys on base for free and make mistakes, and that's what happens."

Hammel exited after four innings, permitting six hits and nine runs (seven earned) while walking a season-high five batters. He struck out three.

Royals first baseman Lucas Duda, just back from the disabled list, did the only damage against Astros starter Gerrit Cole with a solo homer in the fourth inning.

Video: KC@HOU: Duda belts a solo homer to right in the 4th

"[Cole is] tough," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's every bit as tough as anyone in this league. You give him a couple of runs, and it's even tougher. They have a really good pitching staff over there, and it's hard to fall behind that group and battle back."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Right-hander Heath Fillmyer, called up from Triple-A Omaha last week, made his Major League debut, coming on in relief in the fifth inning. Fillmyer got a popup, walked a batter and then induced a double play in his first frame.

Video: KC@HOU: Mondesi starts 4-6-3 double play to end 5th

Fillmyer gave up two runs over four innings. He was one of the players received in the offseason trade in which Brandon Moss was dealt to Oakland.

"A lot of the guys' best advice was to just enjoy the moment while you're running out," Fillmyer said. "I think I did that pretty well, kind of soaked it all in. And once I stepped on the mound, I tried to lock it in as best as I could. Just about after the first pitch, I thought, 'All right, I can do this.' It felt good."

Added Yost, "I thought he pitched great. And he gave us four innings, so I didn't have to use anyone else."

HE SAID IT
"My mom, my dad and my girlfriend all came down from Kansas City. It's been nice to have them here. I think they were gonna follow me around [on the road] until I got my first one in. It was nice." -- Fillmyer, on what family members were in attendance for his debut

UP NEXT
The Royals head back to Kansas City for a makeup game against the Angels at Kauffman Stadium at 3:15 p.m. CT on Monday. Players for both teams will wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Right-hander Brad Keller (1-2. 2.63 ERA) will take the mound for the Royals, while left-hander Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81 ERA) starts for the Angels.

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

Kansas City Royals