KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Losing is always tough. Wasting four home runs in an 11-8 setback to St. Louis felt particularly galling to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
The loss gave the visitors a three-game sweep in Kauffman Stadium just a week after KC took two out of three on the Cardinals turf.
“It’s real disappointing any time you drop three straight,” said Mike Moustakas, the second-year third baseman who hit two of the home runs and had three RBIs. “We played good baseball today and battled back, but we just couldn’t get there at the end.”
Carlos Beltran had a three-run home run and Matt Holliday and Allen Craig each drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who had scored just eleven runs their three previous games but amassed 41 hits and 30 runs in routing the Royals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Starter Jonathan Sanchez and reliever Tim Collins (4-2) combined to give the Cardinals nine walks on Sunday. And while two of the walks were intentional, that just means the pitchers had done something earlier in the inning to cause trouble for themselves.
“When you set in to play these games, you want the opposition to beat you,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “When you are walking guys and making errors, you are actually beating yourself.”
Jeff Francoeur had a solo home run for the Royals and Billy Butler delivered a two-run shot in the ninth.
Trying since April to recover from a 12-game losing streak, the Royals had fought back to just five games under .500. But the pitching collapse against St. Louis plunged them to 31-39.
Beltran’s home run came on an 0-2 pitch.
“He’s a pretty good hitter,” said Sanchez. “At 0-2, that (home run pitch) was a mistake and he took advantage of it.”
Patience, said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, was key in causing the bats to come alive.
“Guys aren’t chasing many pitches out of the (strike) zone. That’s kind of what’s going on here.”
In heaping three days of abuse upon KC pitchers, the heavy-hitting Cardinals rapped out 17 hits and 11 runs on Friday and 16 hits and eight runs on Saturday before completing their first sweep in Kansas City since 2009 with an 11-8 victory on Sunday.
“We know we’re a good offensive team that’s going to be able to score runs. It’s good to see guys getting healthy and swinging the bat a lot better,” said Beltran.
Beltran is tied with Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun for the NL lead. The three RBIs boosted his total to 56, one more than league-leader Andre Ethier had prior to the Dodgers’ game at the Angels. For the three-game series between the state rivals, Beltran had five hits and eight RBIs.
He’s also one homer shy of 200 in the National League. He has 322 overall.
“I don’t really focus on numbers,” he said. “I do look at my numbers at the end of the year and decide what type of year I have. Right now, we have a lot of baseball to play. I just need to focus and help this team win as many ballgames as we can.”
Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, hit a two-run, 442-foot shot off Lance Lynn in the first inning and led off the fourth with a 387-foot shot for his first multihomer game. He also had a single and three RBIs.
“I just got some good pitches to hit today and I didn’t miss them,” Moustakas said.
“I made mistakes and both the guys who hit them are good hitters,” he said. “Moustakas is a great young power hitter and I threw him two fastballs over the plate and he hit them. Then I hung a breaking ball to Francoeur. You’ve got to make better pitches to those guys.”
Sanchez gave up only four hits in 5 2-3 innings but walked six, allowed two home runs and threw a wild pitch while allowing six runs.
NOTES: Royals 1B Eric Hosmer had the day off and was replaced by Billy Butler. … Beltran’s homer came exactly eight years after his previous home run in Kauffman Stadium, in his final game as a Royal. … Moustakas joined Butler as the only Royals player with two-homer games this season. … The Cardinals lead the series 42-30.
– Associated Press –