Has it really been only a week since the KC Royals began an embarrassing weekend against St. Louis by suffering a 6-0 loss at Kauffman Stadium, then dropped two more dispirited games to allow the Cards to leave Kansas City with a series sweep?
Yes, but what a difference a few days can make. Kansas City, which recovered from that sweep by winning three of four against Houston, pounded five home runs at breezy Wrigley Field Friday afternoon and beat the Cubs 6-2.
The Royals are now winners of four of their last five games and bear little resemblance to the club whose three losses to St. Louis represented the low point of a losing homestand.
For the first three innings Friday, though, Chicago starter Zach Davies, who survived his club’s trade deadline purge of stars, made Kansas City look like the same team the Cards all but humiliated. He retired the Royals in order twice and struck out four while his teammates staked him to a 2-0 lead.
But that’s where Davies’ dominance ended. Salvador Perez homered to lead off the fourth, then rookie third baseman Emmanuel Rivera hit his first major league home run off Davies in the fifth to tie the game.
Perez homered again in the sixth (his 32nd of the year), a one-out solo shot that handed the Royals a lead they’d never surrender; Andrew Benintendi followed with his 12th homer to make it 4-2. And after Jarrod Dyson’s bunt single scored Whit Merrifield in the eighth, Cam Gallagher hit a solo homer of his own to lead off the ninth.
So it was that five home runs and a bunt accounted for the Royals’ six runs, a total matching last weekend’s entire output against the Cardinals.
A home run barrage wasn’t the only reason the KC Royals beat the Cubs Friday.
Kansas City’s five homers made the offensive difference in the game, but the Royals benefitted from Brad Keller’s excellent start and a lockdown bullpen that didn’t allow a run.
Keller notched his second straight quality start by allowing the Cubs only two runs in six innings. His eight strikeouts matched his second highest total of the season (he fanned nine against Cleveland early in July) and he walked only one.
The bullpen took over in the seventh and yielded little—Richard Lovelady gave up a single but struck out two that frame, Jake Brentz retired the side in order in the eighth, and Scott Barlow did the same in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts.
The club’s pitchers were collectively a far cry from the staff that surrendered 22 runs to the Cardinals last weekend.
The KC Royals can win this Windy City series Saturday afternoon. Kris Bubic (3-6, 5.09) will face Chicago’s Keegan Thompson (3-2, 2.21) in a 1:20 p.m. CDT Wrigley Field contest.