KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals have traded right-hander Joe Blanton to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.
Blanton, 34, was designated for assignment Tuesday, when Johnny Cueto reported to the Kansas City following his trade from Cincinnati. Blanton was 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in four starts and 11 relief appearances this season.
A former first-round draft pick, Blanton is 87-91 in 11 major league seasons.
The trade was announced Wednesday.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Back from a long stint on the disabled list, Jaime Garcia matched zeroes with Mike Leake for five innings. One pitch doomed the St. Louis Cardinals lefty.
Joey Votto’s three-run homer in the sixth was all the Cincinnati Reds needed in a 4-0 victory Tuesday night.
“I guess it wasn’t good enough,” Garcia said. “I’ve got to do a better job next time when the big situation comes up.”
Votto is the hottest hitter in the majors since the All-Star break, batting .561 with four homers and nine RBIs. He also walked, singled and doubled, giving him an NL-leading 37 multihit games.
Leake (9-5) allowed four hits in eight innings to win his fourth straight start amid speculation he might be dealt at the trade deadline. He allowed just two earned runs in his last 30 innings for a 0.60 ERA.
“I’ve constantly been checking the updates and seeing what’s happening,” Leake said. “Now I’ll go back to doing that, now that I’m not pitching.
“I’m sure Walt (Jocketty) and the front office is happy.”
Garcia (3-4), activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, made his first start since June 24 and gave up three runs and four hits in six innings. He is 10-3 against the Reds, including 7-1 at home.
“He was rolling and that was impressive to watch through five,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It ended up getting away. Votto’s swinging the bat well and he’s not going to let a whole lot of mistakes get by.”
Garcia held the Reds to one hit before the sixth, when Leake reached on a leadoff single, Brandon Phillips walked with one out and Votto hit his 19th homer, a drive to straightaway center estimated at 418 feet.
Garcia just missed on a 3-2 pitch that was inside against Phillips that would have ended the inning. After watching the replay, the lefty realized the call from plate umpire Dan Iassogna could have gone either way.
“I think that was probably a ball, but it was close,” Matheny said. “Two-out walks do come back and haunt you, and you’re getting into the middle of the order.”
The Cardinals have been shut out in four of Garcia’s eight starts.
“I don’t even pay attention to that,” Garcia said. “Their pitcher did an amazing job. Our offense has been the best in the game and I don’t really think about those things.”
Votto’s one-out single in the fourth ended a string of 8 1-3 hitless innings for Garcia counting a rehab start with Triple-A Memphis. Stephen Piscotty singled for St. Louis’ first hit with two outs in the fifth.
Jay Bruce added an RBI single in the ninth off Miguel Socolovich and Aroldis Chapman finished.
Cardinals cleanup man Jhonny Peralta is 2 for 20 against Leake after going 0 for 3 against the right-hander.
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN
A win Wednesday would give the Reds just their fourth series win out of 35 played since the 2003 season against the Cardinals. They have dropped nine straight series in St. Louis.
Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk (groin) sat a second straight day but could be in the lineup Wednesday. RHP Jordan Walden (biceps) was set to begin a rehab with Triple-A Memphis. C Yadier Molina went the distance a day after being replaced in the fifth due to illness.
Reds rookie Anthony DeSclafani (5-7, 3.98 ERA) allowed three runs in seven innings and got no-decision in a loss at Colorado his last time out. St. Louis’ John Lackey (9-5, 2.88) is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA his last eight starts.
IN A PINCH
St. Louis’ Jason Heyward doubled pinch-hitting for Carlos Villanueva in the eighth and is 3 for 6 in that role.
by Tom Withers, AP Sports
CLEVELAND (AP) — Eric Hosmer pointed at his teammates celebrating wildly in the dugout and continued his trot around the bases.
With one swing, Hosmer gave the Royals another thrilling moment in a season getting better by the second.
Hosmer’s homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Trevor Bauer lifted Kansas City to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night over the fading Cleveland Indians, who have lost eight straight at home – their longest home losing streak in 40 years.
Hosmer hit a 3-2 curveball from Bauer (8-8) over the wall in right for his 11th homer, a shot that helped push the Royals 23 games over .500 for the first time since 1989.
“It’s real exciting,” said Hosmer, batting .422 with five homers and 19 RBIs against the Indians this season. “It’s the final push for the second half. We’re trying to win these ballgames. We realize these games in the division are important, especially one that close late in the game.
“It’s a big win for us.”
The Indians, meanwhile, are bottoming out. They’ve lost six straight and eight in a row at home for the first time since 1975, when they played at Cleveland Stadium.
Bauer probably deserved a better fate. He held the AL’s top team to one run for 8 2-3 innings before Hosmer reached down and connected on a 75 mph curveball.
“I’ve thrown him one 3-2 curveball this year,” said Bauer, who recorded his first career complete game. “If I walk him, I walk him and get the next guy out, but I’m not going to let a guy who’s hot like that beat me so I tried to bounce it and the ball was going to bounce on the tip of the plate. It’s freaking baseball. It sucks.”
Hosmer’s homer came one pitch after Indians catcher Roberto Perez threw out Lorenzo Cain trying to steal second.
“Talk about changing emotion with one pitch,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s just a really good hitter.”
Wade Davis (7-1) pitched a perfect eighth and Greg Holland worked the ninth – getting a nifty groundout, and a game-ending double play – for his 22nd save as the Royals won their fourth straight and 16th in 21 games.
Perez opened Cleveland’s ninth with a grounder toward center that appeared to be a single. However, second baseman Omar Infante ran it down on the grass and flipped the ball with his glove to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who grabbed it barehanded and threw out Perez.
“That was incredible,” Hosmer said. “Those guys up the middle never seem to surprise us with the plays they make.”
The Royals seem to have found the winning formula: Keep it close, turn it over to their bullpen and score one more run than the opposition.
“The feeling is if we’re tied or with the lead after the fifth inning we stand a great chance of winning with our bullpen,” manager Ned Yost said. “For the most part they’re going to hold them right there until we can find a way to scratch a run across.”
Both teams made trades Tuesday in advance of Friday’s deadline.
The Royals made their second major move, acquiring utilityman Ben Zobrist and nearly $2.6 million from Oakland for right-hander Aaron Brooks and minor league left-hander Sean Manaea.
On Sunday, Kansas City landed ace Johnny Cueto, who joined his new teammates for the first time Tuesday and will make his debut Friday in Toronto.
The Indians shipped veteran outfielder David Murphy to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for minor league shortstop Eric Statmets.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Hosmer, of course, drove in Kansas City’s first run.
With two outs, Cain sent a drive to deep right that Brandon Moss appeared to catch but lost possession of the ball when he banged into the padded wall. The Indians contended that Moss had made the grab, but the triple was upheld following a video review by the umpires.
Hosmer followed with his second hit, a run-scoring single.
Michael Bourn’s speed allowed Cleveland to tie it in the fifth.
He led off with a single and stole second. One out later, Bourn swiped third and scored when catcher Salvador Perez’s throw tailed away from third baseman Mike Moustakas.
The Royals are 42-14 when they hit at least one homer.
Davis dropped his ERA to a mind-boggling 0.41 – two runs in 42 2-3 innings. He’s got 16 wins in the past two seasons, the most by any reliever in the majors.
Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie starts the series finale, looking to bounce back from a loss last week in Houston when he allowed four runs and 11 hits in seven innings.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber dropped his 12th decision of the season in a 6-0 loss to the White Sox on Friday. The Indians haven’t scored in six of his 21 starts this season.
by Dave Skretta, AP
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs will look a little different on offense this season.
They’ll look a little familiar on defense.
Neither of which is necessarily a bad thing. The Chiefs’ popgun offense and stingy defense carried them to a 9-7 record last season, barely missing out on the playoffs on the final Sunday of the regular season.
So with just a few tweaks to the scoring side of the ball, and with the other side largely status quo, the Chiefs enter training camp with high expectations.
“We understand that we need to take it up a level from last year,” coach Andy Reid said, “so that’s what all of the guys are striving to do.”
The biggest changes on offense are wide receiver and the offensive line.
Dwayne Bowe was cut loose and the Chiefs signed former Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as his replacement, giving Kansas City a downfield target for the first time in years.
On the offensive line, center Rodney Hudson left for AFC West rival Oakland in free agency, so a big competition in camp will be to find his replacement. But the Chiefs also traded for former Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs, signed Paul Fanaika for depth, chose Mitch Morse in the second round of the draft, and will be getting former starter Jeff Allen back from injury.
While nobody knows what five will line up Week 1, the Chiefs hope all those changes will help solidify an offensive line that struggled much of last season.
“You definitely have to have an offensive line that can carry the load on their shoulders,” Grubbs said. “I’ve been on three teams now and offensive line play is very important. A lot of the coaches say as the offensive line goes, the team goes.”
In the case of the Chiefs, that statement applies just as well to the defense.
All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston is coming off a 22-sack season, and is armed with a new, six-year, $101 million contract. Fellow linebacker Derrick Johnson is back from a torn Achilles tendon, as is defensive tackle Mike DeVito. Throw in veterans such as cornerback Sean Smith and linebacker Tamba Hali, and the defense figures to be stout once again – even with the loss of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe to back surgery last week.
Kansas City ranked second behind NFC champion Seattle in points allowed last season, and was among the league leaders in most other defensive categories.
“We’re fortunate here to have good talent and guys that work hard,” Reid said, “so they take upon themselves that responsibility to do that, and the coaches do the same.”
Here are some other things to look for as the Chiefs report to training camp at Missouri Western in St. Joseph, Missouri, on Friday:
ERIC BERRY: The Pro Bowl safety missed much of last season after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, but he was cleared late Tuesday to return to practice. Will Berry be the same dominant run-stopping defensive back that he was before cancer treatment, and how quickly will he be able to get up to speed? His first practice was expected to be Wednesday.
STAYING HEALTHY: The Chiefs lost Johnson, DeVito and Allen in Week 1 last season, and now could be without Poe for much of the season after his surgery on a herniated disc. No team can overcome too many injuries, even though the Chiefs have decent depth across the board.
HEY ROOKIE: Several first-year players will be counted on this season. Morse and WR Chris Conley are two of them, but first-round pick Marcus Peters and third-round choice Steven Nelson – both defensive backs – will try to work their way into the starting lineup, especially with Sean Smith suspended for the first three games of the season for his drunken driving arrest.
TAMBA TIME: Outside linebacker Hali insists he can still register a double-digit sack season, even though he turns 32 in November. That would be a boon for Kansas City because it would keep Houston from dealing with double teams all season.
CHARLES IN CHARGE: Running back Jamaal Charles was banged up much of 2014, but he said during offseason work he was finally feeling healthy again. Charles may be the single most valuable player on the roster, even more so than quarterback Alex Smith. “This was my best OTAs in my career right here,” he said last month. “It was one of the best ones I’ve had.”
Why? “Because I feel like I know what I’m doing,” Charles said. “I did everything patiently. I came in in shape. Being in the third year of the system, I feel good.”
by Dave Skretta, AP
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Eight months after getting the stunning news that he had cancer, Chiefs Pro Bowl safety was expected back on the practice field Wednesday, a day after doctors gave him the all-clear.
The Chiefs medical staff and his own doctors put him through a battery of tests Tuesday and the team later announced he would join quarterbacks, rookies and select injured players for the first practice of training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University. Berry was scheduled to speak to reporters after practice.
Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease last December, shortly after complaining of pain in his chest following a game against Oakland. He was treated at Emory University in Atlanta almost immediately, and went through the final round of treatment in June.
“He’s kept himself in good shape, believe it or not,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said earlier Tuesday, before Berry was cleared to return. “He’s really done a good job there.”
Hodgkin’s disease, also called Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a cancer of the immune system that makes up about 8 percent of all diagnosed lymphomas. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 9,000 people will be diagnosed with it in the United States this year.
The survival rate in 1960 was about 40 percent, but advancements in medicine combined with earlier detections have increased the survival rate to more than 80 percent.
According to Dr. Christopher Flowers, who directs the lymphoma program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute, Berry was scheduled to undergo “standard chemotherapy approaches.” Beyond that, Berry and the team have been reluctant to reveal details of his treatment.
While questions remain about Berry’s fitness and whether he will be ready for the season opener in September, it would not be unprecedented for an athlete to return at a high level.
Several NFL players tweeted their good wishes after the news was announced.
Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson wrote: “True warrior!! Welcome back E!”
Peterson’s coach, Bruce Arians wrote: “So happy to hear Eric Berry is back and cleared for practice. All the best. (hash)BerryStrong”
Hall of Fame hockey player Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with the same disease in 1993, went through treatment and ultimately finished his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and was successfully treated with chemotherapy, and was later voted to his first All-Star game.
While football became an afterthought as Berry battled cancer, his absence from the field was still noteworthy for a team that just missed reaching the playoffs last season.
The Chiefs’ defense was among the league’s best against the pass, but it struggled mightily to defend the run. The 26-year-old Berry happens to be one of the best run-stopping safeties in the game, a hard hitter who fearlessly crashes the line of scrimmage.
The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Berry has played his entire career in Kansas City, becoming one of the most popular players on the team. He missed all of the 2011 season with a torn knee ligament, but returned to start all 16 games the following year. He has started 53 games in all, piling up 323 tackles with 5 1/2 sacks and eight interceptions.
His return, regardless of how much he’ll be able to participate, will certainly boost some spirits in Kansas City. Earlier in the day, Reid announced that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe had surgery on his back last week and would miss all of training camp.
Poe was diagnosed with a herniated disc. He had surgery on July 15.
“He stands a reasonable chance (of returning) in the early part of the season. Whether that’s the beginning or somewhere early in the season for his return, you just have to see and see how things recover, how he recovers there,” Reid said.
by Dave Skretta, AP
T. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are facing a potentially devastating loss on defense, even though training camp doesn’t begin for veterans until this weekend.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe will miss camp and likely part of the season after undergoing surgery last week on a herniated disc. The injury initially occurred during the Chiefs’ voluntary offseason program, but Poe aggravated it during a workout at home on July 8.
Poe had surgery to remove the disc on July 15.
“He’s not doing a whole lot of rehab or treatment. He’s just resting,” Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Tuesday as rookies and select veterans reported to training camp. “I’ve told the coaches we won’t talk about any more activity with Dontari until we get out of training camp.”
Poe is expected to report with the rest of veterans Friday, but he will spend his time with Burkholder and the training staff rather than on the practice field.
Coach Andy Reid said Jaye Howard will be first in line for repetitions, but veteran Mike DeVito and sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches could compete for time.
Asked whether he expects Poe back for the season opener Sept. 13, Reid replied: “I think he stands a reasonable chance the early part of the season, whether it’s the beginning or somewhere early in the season for his return. You just have to see, see how he recovers.
“It’s a positive thing,” Reid insisted, “and it’s something he needed to get done, as opposed to have that other deal antagonize him throughout the season.”
The two-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off arguably the best season of his three-year career. Poe had six sacks despite facing constant double teams, and he was invaluable in slowing down the running game, something that plagued Kansas City all season.
The Chiefs at least have reasonable depth at his position.
Howard started 10 of the 16 games he played in a year ago, and DeVito is returning from a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him in Week 1. Nunez-Roches is a raw prospect out of Southern Miss, but his size and athleticism made him a favorite among coaches this summer.
Yet replacing Poe is a 6-foot-3, 346-pound task. His bulk and the physical demands of his position combined with the nature of the injury make any return uncertain.
“He’ll have extensive rehab and treatment,” Burkholder acknowledged.
The news put a damper on what has been an upbeat offseason for the Chiefs.
After barely missing the playoffs a year ago, they upgraded their offense by signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in free agency. They also return Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson from a season-ending injury, and signed All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston to new contract.
Then there was the news late Tuesday that safety Eric Berry, who missed much of last season after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, had been cleared to return to practice. It remains to be seen how quickly he’ll get up to speed, but Berry planned to attend practice on Wednesday.
“He’s kept himself in good shape, believe it or not,” Reid said earlier in the day, before Berry had been cleared. “He’s done a really good job there.”
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Last summer, it was the Michael Sam experience. This year, it’s the threat of a move back to the West Coast casting a large shadow on St. Louis Rams training camp.
Owner Stan Kroenke has been silent about his intentions since acquiring a parcel of land in Inglewood, California, where a stadium could be built. The Rams are year to year on their lease for the Edward Jones Dome, and owners are holding a special meeting Aug. 11 in Chicago to address potential relocation of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders.
Coach Jeff Fisher insists it’s simply a coincidence that the Rams (6-10) will practice with the Cowboys for three days in mid-August in Oxnard, California. The coach pointed out the team will be in the vicinity after playing a preseason game at Oakland.
“The two are not related,” Fisher said at the end of offseason workouts. “We talked to a number of teams besides the Cowboys about working together, and the Cowboys were really the only one that worked out.
“We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it would be beneficial.”
Players can’t fret about such machinations. Their responsibility is doing everything they can in Year 4 of the Fisher regime to make the franchise a contender in the rugged NFC West.
Things to watch for from the Rams training camp in suburban St. Louis:
RISING DEFENSE: The pass rush really clicked the last two-thirds of the season under coordinator Gregg Williams with 40 sacks the last 11 games after none in the first five. For the first time under Fisher, the Rams won’t have to absorb a new playbook.
“It’s light years on where we were last year because they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them,” Williams said. “It took a little bit of time for all of us to get acclimated last year.”
DE Robert Quinn and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald led the way last season. DE Chris Long opens camp healthy after being limited to six games last year by an ankle injury. William Hayes and Eugene Sims provide quality depth, plus tackle Nick Fairley and linebacker Akeem Ayers were signed in free agency.
GURLEY WATCH: The former Georgia standout was the 10th pick of the draft even though he was coming off midseason left knee surgery. He might not be ready for the opener Sept. 13 against NFC champion Seattle.
Gurley rehabbed in St. Louis during the break after offseason workouts ended in mid-June. There’s depth at running back with last year’s starter, Tre Mason, and versatile Benny Cunningham among the returnees.
FOLES FACTOR: Nick Foles, acquired in a deal for Sam Bradford, has already had plenty of time to get acquainted with an offense run by new coordinator Frank Cignetti. He’ll hope to establish timing with targets Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and Tavon Austin.
Foles is entering the final year of his contract, so there’s a decision to be made.
“We’ve had some discussions. I think what Nick has done early in his career, he’s proven he can get the job done,” Fisher said.
“I felt like this was home when I got here,” Foles said. “That’s nothing against Philly.”
NEW LINE: The offensive line is a question with guard Rodger Saffold and left tackle Greg Robinson the only holdovers. Two rookies could start, second-rounder Rob Havenstein at tackle, and third-rounder Jamon Brown at guard. The center could be a veteran backup, either Barrett Jones or Tim Barnes.
“We don’t have a lot of experience at the center position, but you gain experience by playing,” Fisher said.
PUT UP TIME: Since Fisher arrived, the Rams have frequently touted themselves as the youngest team in the NFL. That can no longer be an excuse for a franchise that made initial advances but since then has treaded water.
The Rams haven’t fielded a winner since 2003 and haven’t been to the playoffs since `04. They’ve won seven, seven and six games under Fisher, hardly a turnaround. They’ll be tested right away with that opener against Seattle.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cardinals rookie Stephen Piscotty was pleased with how he handled his first major league start at Busch Stadium.
Piscotty reached base three times, drove in a run and played mistake-free at first base. He did plenty right, though it wasn’t enough as St. Louis fell short against the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Sunday.
Atlanta used seven strong innings from rookie right-hander Matt Wisler and a tiebreaking homer in the seventh from rookie third baseman Adonis Garcia to avoid a three-game sweep against the team with the majors’ best record.
Piscotty had been set to make his first start at home on Friday but was a late scratch because of a stiff neck he said he suffered while sleeping.
Given his chance two days later, the 24-year-old out of Stanford showed why he entered the season as the Cardinals’ top prospect. He singled in the Cardinals’ first run in the fourth inning, led off the sixth with an infield single and walked in the eighth.
“The reason Stephen’s been able to move through the system and be at the top of our prospect list is the mature at-bats he takes,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s a guy that’s disciplined inside the zone, doesn’t chase a lot out. He has a very consistent approach and swing. Today was a good day.”
Piscotty also kept the Braves from scoring in the eighth when he made a stretch at first on a throw from Matt Carpenter with two out and a runner on third.
“There’s a lot of stuff to work on is but I feel comfortable and today was a good first step,” Piscotty said. “It was good to get the experience and I’m pretty happy about how it went.”
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha (11-4), who had allowed five earned runs in each of his previous two starts, gave up five hits and walked three in six innings. The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the second when Wacha walked two, gave up a run-scoring double to Ryan Lavarnway and a two-out single to Cameron Maybin on an 0-2 changeup. He needed 51 pitches to get through the first two innings.
“I have to do a better job with those counts and being able to put them away,” Wacha said. “I felt like I got stronger as the game progressed.”
Piscotty’s single to left that scored Jason Heyward gave the Cardinals their first run but not without a lengthy delay. Heyward, scoring for the first time against his former team, initially was ruled out but the call was overturned following a 5-minute, 8-second review that showed he slid in ahead of Lavarnway’s tag.
Matt Holliday’s double to the right-field corner scored Kolten Wong, who also had doubled, and tied the game in the fifth.
Garcia, a 30-year-old released by the Yankees in spring training, led off the Braves’ sixth by hitting a 1-0 fastball from Wacha into the right-field bullpen. The homer was Garcia’s first in the majors.
“The ball was up in the zone and he put a good swing on it,” Wacha said. “I have to get the ball down in hitters’ counts.”
Matheny said the ball carried “uncharacteristically far” in a park that has yielded the fewest homers in the National League.
Cardinals: CF Randal Grichuk left after the sixth inning with what Matheny called a minor groin injury. Grichuk suffered the injury when he was running the bases after singling in the fourth inning.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood (7-6, 3.78 ERA) will face RHP Kevin Gausman (1-2, 5.18) in the opener of a three-game series as Atlanta continues a three-stop trip. The Braves are not scheduled off until Aug. 10.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (7-5, 2.80) will make his first start this season against Cincinnati when he opposes rookie RHP Raisel Iglesias (1-2, 5.45). The division rivals have not met since April 19.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — This was one nice day for Kansas City’s rotation.
The Royals traded for Johnny Cueto, and then used Yordano Ventura’s seven sharp innings to beat Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros 5-1 on Sunday.
“I wanted to see the old Ventura out there and we saw it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “That’s good for us and bad for everybody else.”
Ventura (5-7) allowed one run and six hits in just his second win in his last seven starts. The right-hander, who won 14 games last year, was demoted to Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday and then recalled the next day after the Royals learned left-hander Jason Vargas would miss the rest of the year with an elbow injury.
“My confidence is a lot better after today,” Ventura said through a translator. “I feel I pitched similar to last year. I was getting in a rhythm.”
The Royals announced during the game they had acquired Cueto from Cincinnati for minor league left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed, drawing a big cheer at Kauffman Stadium.
Cueto was one of the top starters on the market. He won 20 games last season and is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 19 starts this year.
“I’m excited about my next chapter,” Cueto said in Colorado, with Reds catcher Brayan Pena serving as his translator. “I know they play baseball very good. I’m excited because I know it’s going to be good for my career and good for the team.”
Keuchel (12-5), who started for the American League in the All-Star Game, was tagged for a season-high 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also allowed five runs, matching a season high.
The Royals got off to a fast start, scoring four times in the first inning. Keuchel allowed a total of four first-inning runs in his first 20 starts of the year.
Kansas City opened with three straight singles to load the bases. After consecutive grounders led to a pair of forceouts at home, Omar Infante hit a two-run single and Cheslor Cuthbert doubled home two more runs.
Cuthbert has hit in all five of his games in the majors.
“I really didn’t feel like the bases were loaded, just based on some of the contact that was being made,” Keuchel said. “I felt like there were only a few hard hits all day. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. You know as a ground-ball pitcher they’re going to find holes. I feel like they were finding every hole in the first inning, but it’s my job to kind of shore up some things and sure enough, I did. It’s one of those days I’d like to have the first inning back, but I battled.”
Lorenzo Cain added a two-out drive in the second for his 11th homer. He had two hits after going 3 for 21 in his previous five games.
“I told Dallas on the mound in the seventh, to get us into the seventh the way he did showed a lot of perseverance,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think it’s easy when you get singled to death, so to speak, it’s easy to cave. And Dallas didn’t cave. He kept us in the game.”
Houston got its only run in the second. Evan Gattis led off with a triple and scored on Colby Rasmus’ single.
The Royals have won five straight day games and are 10-1 in their past 11 afternoon encounters.
Astros: INF Jed Lowrie (right thumb ligament tear) is 2 for 7 in three games with Double-A Corpus Christi. “He hasn’t fielded a ground ball yet in rehab, which I’m very frustrated with,” Hinch said. After having Sunday off, Lowrie will play Monday and Tuesday and then be re-evaluated.
Royals: LF Alex Gordon (left groin strain) is throwing and hopes to take swings off the tee this week. “Baby steps,” Gordon said.
Astros: After an off day, RHP Collin McHugh (11-5, 4.25 ERA), who is 5-2 with a 2.85 ERA in his past seven outings, starts Tuesday against the Angels.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez (9-5, 3.15 ERA) starts Monday at Cleveland as the Royals open a 10-game trip.
(Kansas City) (AP) – The Kansas City Royals acquired Johnny Cueto in a trade with Cincinnati on Sunday, sending three prospects to the Reds for a legitimate ace for the front of their beleaguered rotation.
Kansas City has the best record in the American League after it lost to San Francisco in Game 7 of the World Series last October. But Yordano Ventura has underperformed this year and Jason Vargas will miss the rest of the season after he injured his elbow last week – increasing the need for pitching help.
The Royals last won the title in 1985, and the trade was greeted with a loud ovation when it was announced during the third inning of Kansas City’s home game against Houston on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m excited about my next chapter,” Cueto said with Reds catcher Brayan Pena serving as his translator. “I know they play baseball very good. I’m excited because I know it’s going to be good for my career and good for the team.”
Cueto, who is eligible for free agency after the season, had spent his entire career with Cincinnati. But the fourth-place Reds are looking to the future and could trade several more significant pieces before Friday’s non-waiver deadline, including right-hander Mike Leake and All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman.
Cincinnati got minor league left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed in the trade for Cueto, who was one of the top starters on the market. The Reds also are sending money to the Royals to help pay Cueto’s remaining salary for the year.
“There is a lot interest in Johnny and we felt that this was the best value we could get,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “Johnny is going to a great situation there. He has people that he’ll know. He’s on a team that has a chance to go to the World Series.”
Finnegan and Lamb were assigned to Triple-A Louisville, and Reed went to Double-A Pensacola.
Finnegan was selected by the Royals in the first round of last year’s draft. He made seven playoff appearances in 2014, but has split time between Triple-A Omaha and Kansas City this year.
The 25-year-old Lamb, a fifth-round pick in 2008, is 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 17 starts for Omaha.
Cueto, 29, won 20 games last season and is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 19 starts this year. He pitched eight scoreless innings in Cincinnati’s 5-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday night.
The right-hander made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2008 and is 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA in eight seasons.
“It’s a very emotional time for me,” Cueto said. “But I understand it’s part of the game and I’m just excited about my next step.”
The deal for Cueto is indicative of the new reality for Kansas City, which used to trade away its top players for prospects at the deadline. Not so much right now, and the Royals are trying to take full advantage of their window for contention.
Several top young players, such as first baseman Eric Hosmer and All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas, are eligible for arbitration and becoming more expensive by the year.
While Royals owner David Glass has been willing to increase their payroll to franchise-record levels, Kansas City may have only a couple of years to make another run at a title before finances force them into a rebuilding mode.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore is not thinking about Cueto’s future – now.
“We acquired Johnny Cueto to help us compete and win the division and hopefully get back to the playoffs and win a World Series,” he said. “That’s where our focus is.”
The deal also reunites Edinson Volquez and Cueto after the pitchers spent four years together in Cincinnati.
The close friends are from the Dominican Republic, and Volquez, who signed a $20 million, two-year deal with the Royals this past offseason, served as a mentor to Cueto when he broke into the big leagues in 2008. They have even spoken of their desire to play together once again.