KANSAS CITY -- Rangers left-hander Wandy Rodriguez allowed just one run in seven innings and Royals ace Yordano Ventura gave up all four runs in the first two innings as Texas held on, 4-2, and clinched the series at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers have won 14 of their last 17 games and are four over .500 for the first time since April 28, 2014. The Royals have lost nine of their last 11.
Rodriguez won his first start over the Royals in three meetings, improving to 2-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up the run in the sixth inning and finished with six hits, no walks and four strikeouts.
"We're playing good right now," Rodriguez said. "We're playing good defense and hitting the ball well."
Ventura lasted a season-low three innings, allowing four runs off six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Right-hander Joe Blanton took over and tossed 3 1/3 shutout innings. Blanton, who pitched for the third straight game, kept the Royals within striking distance and helped save the potential overuse of the bullpen.
"That, for me, was one of the highlights of our day," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Coming in, third day in a row, doing what he did, was huge for us today."
Salvador Perez brought the Rangers a little closer in the ninth with a solo home run off Shawn Tolleson, who then closed it out for his seventh save of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Choo sparks offense: The Rangers scored two runs in each of the first two innings. Shin-Soo Choo started one rally and ended the other. His one-out single was the first of four straight hits off Ventura. In the second inning, Choo came up with two runners in scoring position and brought them home with a double to left-center.
"It's always crucial to get on the board first, especially on the road" Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The kind of pitcher we faced today, if we can get to him early, it's a big benefit to us."
Ventura's start short, not sweet: Ventura made his shortest start this season, exiting after just three innings allowing six hits and four runs. He also walked two, hit one batter and made a throwing error to second that advanced a runner to third. He also allowed only his second stolen base in 262 2/3 career innings.
"It's just one of those days," Ventura said through interpreter Christian Colon. "Just going to keep working. The team needs [me] right now, and [I'm] going to be ready for [my] next start."
Rodriguez gets big grounders: Rodriguez, keeping his fastball low and using his curve, had 11 of 21 outs come via ground balls. The biggest came in the bottom of the sixth. The Rangers led by three runs, but the Royals had two on with two outs when Rodriguez got Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play. More >
In the eighth inning, Morales was back up in a similar situation -- runners on first and third with two outs -- and knocked the second pitch right to reliever Sam Freeman for another rally-killing groundout. More >
Game-ending call fires up Escobar: After Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar was called out on a swinging strike three for the final out of the game, he argued with the home-plate umpire about checking with third base. Fieldin Culbreth declined to check, which prompted Escobar to throw his helmet in the dirt on his way back to the dugout.
"It was questionable whether he went or not," Yost said. "[The umpire] said he felt he saw it good enough to call it."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Texas pitchers racked up 21 consecutive scoreless innings until the Royals scored in the sixth. The Rangers closed their 2-1 victory in 11 innings over the White Sox on Thursday with seven scoreless frames. That was followed by Chi Chi Gonzalez's shutout Friday and five scoreless by Rodriguez on Saturday. That's the longest streak for the club this season.
"He just started to get a little frustrated. I think he felt like he was fighting his command." -- Yost, on Ventura
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis looks to deliver a series sweep in Kansas City at 1:10 p.m. CT Sunday. He is 4-1 with a 5.70 ERA in his past six starts.
Royals:Jeremy Guthrie (4-3, 6.17 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium. He is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in five starts at home this season.