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Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman, left, tags out Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer (35) during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, July 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman, left, tags out Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer (35) during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, July 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Although Alcides Escobar didn’t make solid contact, he immediately knew he had a game-winning hit.

Escobar singled home Paulo Orlando with two outs in the 10th inning to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Orlando singled off Will Harris (4-3) with one out and stole second before Escobar’s game-winning looper to shallow right gave the Royals the win and snapped the Astros’ five-game winning streak.

“With a man on second base, any base hit in that scoring position, he will score easily,” Escobar said. “I see this guy (right fielder Colby Rasmus) he is playing right to the line and the second baseman (Jose) Altuve playing to the middle, I say no chance, game over.”

Kelvin Herrera (2-2) pitched a scoreless 10th to pick up the victory.

Eric Hosmer tripled high off the left-field fence with two out in the ninth, but was stranded when Harris retired Alex Rios on a grounder.

“Runs were hard to come by, obviously,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Then we got beat by a little bleeder. It was an exciting game, a tough one to lose. These type of games are character builders. There are no moral victories around here, but I was proud of our guys. We fought pretty hard. We played an extremely tough team.”

The Astros grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth when Altuve singled and stopped at third on Marwin Gonzalez’s double into the left-field corner. Rookie Carlos Correa hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Altuve.

Houston right-hander Scott Feldman took a one-hitter into the seventh inning before the Royals tied it. Escobar’s led off with an infield single and moved to third on Kendrys Morales’ ground-rule double to center.

After Hosmer was walked intentionally to load the bases, Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly scored Escobar, snapping the Royals’ 15-inning scoreless drought.

Feldman, who was making his second start since having right knee surgery in late May, left after 7 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run, while walking one intentionally and striking out two.

Pat Neshek replaced Feldman and stranded Orlando at second base to end the eighth. He has permitted just one of 15 inherited runners to score this season.

Royals left-hander Danny Duffy was pulled after six innings and 101 pitches, allowing one run and three hits, while walking one and striking out three.

“My fastball had a lot of life,” Duffy said. “When I made bad pitches, the defense made plays. I was really quite honestly pretty tired in the fourth, but my fastball felt pretty strong all night.”

DAVIS JOINS O’BRIEN

Royals RHP Wade Davis threw his fifth scoreless outing since the All-Star break to lower his ERA to 0.43. He is the second pitcher in big league history to record an ERA below 0.50 after 40 innings, joining Red Sox pitcher Buck O’Brien, 0.38 in 1911.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: INF Jed Lowrie (right thumb ligament tear) went 2 for 3 with a double and a RBI, while starting at third base Friday in a rehab game with Double-A Corpus Christi. He got the hits swinging right-handed. “That’s the side of the plate we were most concerned about him adjusting to after the injury,” Hinch said.

UP NEXT

Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel, who leads the American League with a 2.12 ERA, goes for his 13th victory.

Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura, who got a reprieve Wednesday, will start Sunday. Ventura was optioned Tuesday to Triple-A after a succession of poor outings, but was recalled the next day with LHP Jason Vargas going down with a season-ending elbow injury.

by Steve Overbey, AP

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina, left, congratulates teammate Randal Grichuk on his two run home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 24, 2015 in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, congratulates teammate Randal Grichuk on his two run home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 24, 2015 in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(St. Louis) (AP) – On a 90-degree night, the shower St. Louis rookie left-hander Tim Cooney received in the locker room after recording his first major league win was almost as enjoyable as his performance on the hill.

“It was ice cold, just what I needed,” Cooney after throwing seven solid innings, leading the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer, his second in as many nights, and Mark Reynolds and Jhonny Peralta added run-scoring hits to help the Cardinals improve to 6-1 since the All-Star break. They are an MLB-best 35-12 at home.

Meanwhile, the Braves have lost their last six road games.

Cooney (1-0) gave up five hits and two earned runs in an efficient 74-pitch stint. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He faced four batters over the minimum.

“I think my command has been getting a little bit better each start,” Cooney said. “This was the best for my fastball command. When you are able to locate the ball, good things are going to happen.”

Cooney said the importance of the moment did not sink in until he looked up at the scoreboard right after the final out.

“When it ended and I saw my name in win column, it was pretty cool,” he said.

Cooney had a successive scoreless string stopped at 12 innings when the Braves scored twice in the sixth.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has been impressed with Cooney’s composure in all six of his starts. The last five were no-decisions.

“He was very unpredictable with what he was going to throw tonight,” Matheny said. “He made the pitches in tough counts. He had a feel for everything.”

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina did a solid job of guiding the rookie through the little trouble he encountered.

“It’s always good to see someone get their first win, or first homer, or RBI,” Molina said. “I’m happy for him.”

Grichuk’s homer came in the second inning. He also hit a two-run homer in the second on Thursday in a 4-3 win over Kansas City. His 11th of the season came off rookie Manny Banuelos (1-2), who gave up six hits and four earned runs in five-plus innings. He had allowed one earned run or less in all three of his previous starts.

“I just went up there trying to be aggressive in the strike zone,” Grichuk said. “I got some pitches I thought I could handle and I swung at them.”

Kevin Siegrist retired the Braves in the ninth for his fifth save in eight opportunities. He struck out Jonny Gomes with two on to end the game. St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal was given the night off after appearing in the previous three games.

Peralta brought in Matt Carpenter with a run-scoring single in the third for a 3-0 lead. Reynolds drove in Grichuk in the fourth.

The Braves parlayed a double by Cameron Maybin and a single by Andrelton Simmons into two runs.

Atlanta was able to stay close, but could not come up with a big hit down the stretch.

“I thought our bullpen did a terrific job coming in, keeping it right there,” manager Fredi Gonzalez. “With Jonny Gomes at the plate, who historically wears out left-handed pitching, you feel pretty good in that situation.”

Banuelos struggled to the worst outing of his short career.

“It was a tough game,” Banuelos said. “I (made) a couple of mistakes in tough situations.”

The Braves, who were opening a 10-game road trip, have lost nine of their last 12 overall.

TRAINER’S ROOM:

Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman began a rehabilitation assignment with the Rookie League Gulf Coast team in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Friday. Freeman, who has missed 29 games, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 23 with a bruised right wrist.

Cardinals: Rookie OF/INF Stephen Piscotty did not start on Friday after being a late scratch on Thursday due to a stiff neck. He reached on an error as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

UP NEXT:

Former Cardinals RHP Shelby Miller (5-6, 2.33) will face RHP Carlos Martinez (10-4, 2.51) in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. Miller was acquired from the Cardinals on Nov. 17, 2014, along with RHP Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for OF Jason Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden. Martinez had recorded 10 successive quality starts.

 

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, July 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, July 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals were glad to get seven innings out of Jeremy Guthrie on a hot muggy night when their offense couldn’t get anything going.

Guthrie went longer than it appeared he would after giving up 10 hits and four runs in the first four innings in Kansas City’s 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night.

“He did a great job getting us through seven innings,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He had the little rough innings in the third and fourth, they scored two runs. Got a couple of pitches up where they barreled the ball. But they got a couple of pitches where he made his pitch, too, and fought them off in broken-bat singles that resulted in two runs. But (Scott) Kazmir was the story.”

While Guthrie was struggling, Kazmir was nearly unhittable as he limited the Royals to three singles over seven innings in his Astros debut.

The 31-year-old left-hander let only one Kansas City runner past first base – Mike Moustakas in the fourth. Kazmir (6-5), who lowered his ERA to 2.24, retired the final nine batters he faced.

“Same thing that always makes him effective,” said Eric Hosmer, who singled in the ninth after Kazmir departed. “He has three above-average pitches. He has that lefty-lefty changeup that really keeps you off-balance. He really takes a lot of speed off of it. He attacks you with all three of the pitches. … He was really in, out, up, down. He was painting the plate real good.”

It was a performance Yost could admire, but not enjoy.

“He really handled us with fastballs and changeups,” Yost said. “But changing speeds … his fastball was 93-95. His changeup was 74 to 80. A lot of variation there. Really commanded the ball well, kept the ball down. Busted us in when we started looking away and off-speeded us down and away when we were looking in.”

Kazmir, acquired by the Astros from Oakland on Thursday for two minor leaguers, hasn’t lost a July start since July 10, 2010, going 7-0 in his past 14 starts in the month.

“It’s nice to get the first one out of the way,” Kazmir said. “When you have a defense like I had behind me especially what you see the first couple of innings, you have a lot of confidence out there. I just pitched to contact.”

Preston Tucker had three of the Astros’ hits, including his fourth home run in five games – a solo shot in the third inning. Colby Rasmus singled home Carlos Correa later in the inning to make it 2-0.

Correa, a 20-year-old rookie who extended his hitting streak to nine games, and Jose Altuve each singled home a run in the fourth inning.

Left-hander Tony Sipp walked Moustakas and gave up a single to Hosmer in the ninth, which prompted manager A.J. Hinch to summon closer Luke Gregerson for the final two outs. Gregerson logged his 21st save in 24 opportunities, getting Kendrys Morales to ground into a game inning double play.

Guthrie (7-6) gave up four runs on 11 hits, matching his season high, and two walks in seven innings. It was the eighth time this season and his third straight start Guthrie has allowed at least eight hits.

“It was like it always is, for the most part, nothing real different,” Guthrie said of his stuff. “I was able to cut it pretty good. Got in on a couple of guys, even the ball Rasmus hit out in right field for an RBI single. I felt like I stayed out of the middle of the plate better than I have the last couple of starts. But overall, you’ve got to make pitches with runners on base and try to limit the damage.”

The Royals are 0-4 against the Astros this season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: INF Jed Lowrie (ligament right thumb tear) has begun a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi.

Royals: LF Alex Gordon (left groin strain) has started a throwing program, but Yost said Gordon is a ways off before returning.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Scott Feldman will be making his second start since May 26 and going on the disabled list after knee surgery.

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy lost to the Astros on June 30, allowing four runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals bolstered their bullpen Friday, getting Steve Cishek in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

The Cardinals sent Double-A pitcher Kyle Barraclough to Miami for the sidearming Cishek. The deal came a week before baseball’s trading deadline.

Cishek is 2-6 with three saves and a 4.50 ERA this year. The 29-year-old righty had trouble earlier this season and was sent down to Double-A, but had an 0.71 ERA in 13 games since returning to Miami in mid-June.

“He’s a guy that we never enjoyed facing,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before Friday night’s game against Atlanta. “We’re excited to have him and we think he can help us out right away. I’ve already talked to him. He’s excited. He’s a guy who wants to come right in and make an impact.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he had been looking to add a piece or two.

“When you look at this club and how we’re put together right now, clearly there are things we can do to improve,” he said.

“One of the places we felt like we could focus on was the bullpen. You look at what Steve brings and how he pitches, it just seemed like it could be the right balance for what we’re trying to do,” he said. “He’s had a lot of success. I just feel like what he’s capable of doing will really help us out.”

Cishek has recently been among the most durable relievers in the majors, pitching at least 67 games in each of the past three seasons. He had 39 saves for the Marlins last year and 34 in 2013.

“Obviously, he’s done a lot of good things. I’m excited to get him here,” Cardinals reliever Randy Choate said. “He struggled for a while, but he worked his way out of it.”

The Cardinals have the best record in the majors. Miami is fourth in the NL East.

“It was with mixed emotions when I got the phone call that the trade was consummated,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings. “When I got him on the phone, we have a very heartfelt conversation. He understands it’s the business part of baseball. Still it was tough when you watch a guy grow through your system.”

Jennings praised the way Cishek handled his demotion this season.

“He loses his position and accepts his assignment and goes down there and works on his mechanics. And he came back up and pitched (well). That shows you his character as a man and his drive as a baseball player,” he said.

Barraclough was a combined 3-0 with 12 saves and a 2.27 ERA in Single-A and Double-A this season. The 25-year-old righty was drafted in the seventh round by St. Louis in 2012.

by RB Fallstrom, AP

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey (41) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, July 23, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey (41) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, July 23, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(St. Louis) (AP) – John Lackey wore a Cardinals 1985 World Series T-shirt as a 6-year-old growing up in Abilene, Texas, courtesy of an aunt then living in St. Louis.

The 36-year-old right-hander was a Rangers fan back then, but had no trouble adding the Cardinals to his short list of favorites. No doubt, he enjoyed beating the Kansas City Royals wearing a throwback uniform the teams wore in the I-70 Series.

“I have a picture of me in a World Series ’85 T-shirt,” Lackey said after the Cardinals won 4-3 Thursday night. “I’m kind of an old-school guy.

“I like the old uniforms – they’re sweet. They’re a little bit hotter than the ones we have now, that’s about the only thing.”

Lackey threw seven strong innings after a shaky beginning and Trevor Rosenthal escaped his own jam in the ninth as the Cardinals won in the makeup of a rainout last month. Randal Grichuk and Matt Carpenter hit two-run homers.

“You try to stay out of those situations,” Rosenthal said after pitching for the third straight day. “When we don’t think too far ahead, I think that’s when we all have our best stuff.”

As in the originally scheduled game, St. Louis and Kansas City led their league in wins and Lackey (9-5) and Chris Young (8-6) were the scheduled starters.

Rosenthal took over to begin the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Alex Rios led off with a single and Omar Infante followed with a triple.

The Royals went on to put runners on second and third with no outs and twice baserunners were allowed to take second without a throw before Rosenthal held on for his 30th save in 32 chances. Mike Moustakas grounded out to end it.

“That’s a controversial philosophy,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Mine was I wanted to win it with my closer right now.”

Royals manager Ned Yost couldn’t deny his surprise.

“Anytime you’re going to let the winning run waltz to second base …” Yost said. “They’ve got a lot of confidence in their closer. It shows you how good he is.”

The paid attendance of 46,003 was the 24th sellout for St. Louis, which took the season series 4-2, but there were several thousand no-shows for the opener of an elongated 11-game homestand.

Salvador Perez and Alex Rios had consecutive RBI singles in the first for the Royals, but they managed just two more hits in Lackey’s final six innings. The 36-year-old right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last eight starts, working seven or more innings in all but one of them.

“That’s my whole career,” Lackey said. “I get deep in games, that’s why I’m still doing it.”

Carpenter’s 10th homer, and just his second in two months, put the Cardinals ahead 4-2 in the third. Grichuk, who also singled and flied out to the wall in right, has a team-leading 13 RBIs this month.

The Cardinals are 61-34 overall and 34-12 at Busch Stadium, both major league bests.

Young gave up four runs in three innings, his shortest outing since he allowed five runs while getting just two outs for Seattle last Sept. 1 at Oakland.

“It just wasn’t good enough. Made some bad pitches and they both got hit out of the park,” Young said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: Young has been hindered by back tightness and is 1-3 in his last five starts.

Cardinals: Jaime Garcia threw five hitless innings in his first rehab start for Class A Peoria, the only blemish on his line a hit batter. … Rookie 1B Stephen Piscotty was a pregame lineup scratch with neck stiffness.

UP NEXT

Royals: Jeremy Guthrie (7-5, 5.36) faces the Astros to open a three-game series at home. He’s 20-12 with a 3.68 ERA post-break the last four seasons.

Cardinals: Rookie Tim Cooney (0-0, 3.33) faces the Braves, making his sixth career start in search of a first decision. The lefty threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings his last time out, an 18-inning loss to the Mets on Sunday.

(West Plains) – After a week off, racing resumes Saturday night at Legit Speedway Park in West Plains with another Free Grandstand Event.

This weeks points race and free general admission is being sponsored by Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply of Thayer and West Plains. The free grandstand events have been a monthly feature at Legit Speedway since it opened in May, with thousands of people turning out for great racing action.

The gates open at 5 PM, with hot laps at 6:30 PM and races at 7 PM. You can get your free tickets for Saturday’s event at Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply in Thayer and West Plains.

by Jay Cohen, AP

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrates with relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) after defeating the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. The Cardinals won the game 3-2.  (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrates with relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) after defeating the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. The Cardinals won the game 3-2. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

CHICAGO (AP) — With a solid pitching staff and deep lineup, the St. Louis Cardinals can beat you in a variety of ways. This time, it was a rare triple for their All-Star catcher.

Yadier Molina hit the bases-loaded triple off David Robertson with two out in the eighth inning, sending the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.

Randal Grichuk singled, Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch and Jason Heyward reached on catcher’s interference before Molina drove a 2-2 pitch into the corner in right for his third hit of the game.

“Just a great at-bat in a big situation,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We talk about that a lot, that big hit, that’s kind of the definition of what that looks like.”

Molina is batting .429 (9 for 21) in his last four games. It was the first triple for the veteran catcher since May 22, 2011, and No. 4 for his career.

“I think it was a cutter, right on the corner away. I was looking for something middle, middle away,” Molina said. “It was a good pitch. I mean, I just got lucky to put the bat on the ball and got lucky to find a hole.”

Miguel Socolovich (4-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win. Kevin Siegrist struck out Adam LaRoche with runners on the corners for the final out in the eighth, and Trevor Rosenthal finished for his 29th save in 31 chances.

St. Louis (60-34) has won four of five heading into a season-long 11-game homestand beginning on Thursday night against Kansas City.

“We know what to do,” said Lance Lynn, who pitched six solid innings. “You just got to keep grinding out at-bats, making pitches, and trying to make sure that they don’t have a huge inning. We’ve got guys who know how to do that, and it makes it fun around here.”

It was another heartbreaking loss for the last-place White Sox (42-50), who have dropped four straight and six of seven. Zach Duke (3-4) got two outs in the eighth before he was replaced by Robertson, and Tyler Flowers struck out three times in addition to his costly miscue behind the plate that put Heyward on in the eighth.

“A triple from a catcher is a tough one to take,” Robertson said. “He’s a good hitter. I don’t know what else to say, I threw my best pitch and he got me.”

John Danks pitched 6 2/3 innings of five-hit ball for Chicago, extending his scoreless streak to 12 2/3 innings over his last two starts. The left-hander struck out five and walked none.

“It’s tough when Johnny pitches like that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He was fantastic tonight. Command, change of speeds, everything.”

Danks and Lynn were locked up in a scoreless duel before Chicago pushed across two runs in the sixth, helped by a miscue for Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta. With runners on first and second and no outs, Peralta juggled Tyler Saladino’s potential double-play grounder as he tried to get the ball out of his glove, leaving no chance for second baseman Kolten Wong to get the speedy rookie at first.

Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera followed with consecutive RBI singles, lifting the White Sox to a 2-0 lead. Lynn then struck out Avisail Garcia and retired LaRoche on a fly ball to the warning track in center.

SLUMPING

LaRoche went 0 for 4 and is batting .148 (8 for 54) with no homers and two RBIs in July.

“It’s confusing, frustrating,” LaRoche said before the game. “I’ll go and figure it out for an at-bat or two, and then it’s gone, where in the past I’ve been able to figure it out and maybe hold onto it for a while.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Holliday was the designated hitter for the second straight day. The All-Star was activated from the disabled list on Friday after being sidelined by a strained right quadriceps, but he hasn’t been cleared to run full speed yet. “I think it’s getting closer and better every day,” Matheny said. “A couple of days here as a DH have certainly been helpful. We’ll see when we get back home tomorrow. We’ll see what the doctors are saying.” … RHP Mitch Harris (right groin strain) pitched a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP John Lackey (8-5, 2.90 ERA) gets the ball Thursday night against Kansas City in the makeup of a June 14 rainout. RHP Chris Young (8-5, 3.03 ERA) starts for the Royals in a matchup of the teams with the best record in each league.

White Sox: RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-5, 4.08 ERA) makes what could be his final start for Chicago when the White Sox open a four-game series at Cleveland on Thursday night. Samardzija is a possible trade target ahead of the July 31 non-waiver deadline. RHP Trevor Bauer (8-6, 4.03 ERA) pitches for the Indians.

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Edinson Volquez wanted to go nine innings, but had to settle for a victory against his old team and a standing ovation.

He did pitch effectively into the eighth and Mike Moustakas hit a three-run homer to lead the Kansas City Royals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Volquez (9-5), who won 13 games last season for the Pirates, picked up his first victory since June 26. He allowed one run on eight hits, while walking one and striking out eight.

“I wanted a complete game,” Volquez said. “I get two easy outs in the eighth and then give up singles to (Andrew) McCutchen and (Starling) Marte. I was hoping to stay in the game, but the skipper came out and I said, `oh man.’ Ned (Yost) said see all those people in the stands, they’re going to give you a standing ovation.’ I said, all right, I’ll take that.”

Moustakas homered with two out in the eighth with Alex Rios and Jarrod Dyson aboard. Moustakas drove the 3-0 offering from right-hander Charlie Morton into the Royals’ bullpen.

“His eyes lit up when he saw the go ahead and swing sign,” Yost said.

Morton said the pitch was right where he “wanted it.”

“He was obviously looking in,” Morton said. “It was right up on his hands. “He was cheating in, I guess.”

Dyson’s bunt single scored Omar Infante with the first run of the inning.

Morton (6-4) allowed five runs on seven hits, two of them home runs, walked one, hit two batters and struck out four. He is 1-3 in his past five starts, inflating his ERA from 1.62 to 4.59.

Eric Hosmer hit his ninth home run, matching his 2014 total, in the fourth for the other Kansas City run. Hosmer went 101 at-bats since his previous homer on June 19.

Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly in the third scored Jaff Decker for the only Pittsburgh run.

The Pirates went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position off Volquez. Opponents are hitting just .186 off Volquez with runners in scoring position.

“We pushed him four different innings with two runners on,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s shown up well this year on batting average against with runners in scoring position. We saw more of that tonight. One inning we lined out twice. We just had poor aim.”

The Pirates have lost five of six since the All-Star break. The Royals have won six of eight and top the American League with 57 victories.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli missed his second straight game with a right wrist contusion, but manager Clint Hurdle said he would likely return to the lineup Thursday.

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas, who left after 26 pitches with elbow pain Tuesday, has a torn ligament that will require season-ending Tommy John surgery. RHP Yordano Ventura, who was optioned Tuesday to Triple-A Omaha, was recalled and will start Sunday against the Astros.

UP NEXT:

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano, who was scratched from a Saturday start at Milwaukee with a stiff neck, will start Thursday against the Nationals.

Royals: RHP Chris Young will start Thursday at St. Louis, a makeup game from a June 14 rainout. Young threw six scoreless innings on May 20 to beat the Cardinals.

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals left-hander Jason Vargas has a torn ulnar ligament in his elbow and will need season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Vargas left his start against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night after throwing just 26 pitches. He had an MRI on Wednesday that revealed the extent of the injury.

“The report didn’t come back good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s definitely going to have to have surgery. He’s going to be out for a while. I mean it’s a 12 to 14 month recovery. The good thing is when he comes back he’ll be every bit as good as he was before he got hurt.”

Vargas had been on the disabled list twice previously this season with elbow injuries.

“But he did a really good job of rehabbing it back,” Yost said. “He looked great in his sim games. He looked good in his rehab start. He looked phenomenal last night in the first inning with two punch outs, throwing his fastball 88 miles per hour and down in the zone. His command was great with his changeup and his fastball. It’s just one of those things that just went.”

The Royals filled his spot in the rotation by recalling Yordano Ventura, The hard-throwing right-hander had been sent to Triple-A Omaha just a day earlier to work on his inconsistency and rebuild some confidence after a string of poor starts.

“Is it beneficial to go to a lower key environment for a start or two and have some success? Yeah,” Yost said. “But this kid has had some success at the major league level. Hopefully he’ll get better and better as the second half goes on.”

Ventura will start Sunday against the Astros.

Vargas, who is 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA, was instrumental in the Royals’ run to the World Series a year ago. He went 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA in three postseason starts. Vargas, 32, is in the second year of a four-year $32 million contract with the Royals owning him $16.5 million for 2016-17.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Stephen Piscotty was scratched from the St. Louis Cardinals lineup due to a stiff neck.

Dan Johnson replaced Piscotty playing first base and batting eighth against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

Piscotty was 2 for 8 with a double in two starts, the first appearances of his career since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Memphis.

Johnson, whose contract was purchased from Memphis earlier this month, was 2 for 10 in six games.

Mark Reynolds, who has gotten the bulk of playing time at first base, was out of the lineup. He entered the game 2 for 14 in his career against Royals starter Chris Young.