Cain able with big bat in return against Astros

Cain able with big bat in return against Astros

HOUSTON -- Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain was certainly limited in his return from a hamstring issue against the Astros on Tuesday.

Just not enough to limit his production.

Cain hobbled out a couple of doubles, legged out an infield hit and nearly made a remarkable catch on the dreaded Tal's Hill in center while going 3-for-4 in the Royals' 4-0 loss at Minute Maid Park.

Cain was about the only Royals hitter to figure out Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, logging nearly as many hits as his Kansas City teammates combined off the reigning two-time American League Pitcher of the Month.

"Lorenzo took what [Keuchel] gave him," manager Ned Yost said. "The balls to right field, the doubles, he stayed in on them, and is just grinding it out."

Cain was stranded in scoring position after all three of his hits, which all came with two out.

The outfielder, who had missed the previous two games, had a large ice pack and bandage on his left hamstring after the game, and he was clearly laboring to reach second on the two-baggers.

"It's still very encouraging, since I can get to second if I need to," Cain said. "I know it's obvious I'm not 100 percent, but I'm just trying to be on the field and hopefully help us win."

Yost said he was happy to see Cain be judicious in his strides rather than try to sprint out plays that weren't really very close.

"He's doing a great job of gauging when he needs to run hard and when he doesn't," Yost said. "That's how you deal with leg injuries. You can play through it if you're smart."

Gattis' triple

Cain almost played through it enough to make a phenomenal catch on Evan Gattis' triple in the fourth inning. Gattis launched one 425 feet dead up the infamous hill in center.

For a player nursing a hamstring issue, that's a scary sight. But Cain navigated the territory well, making it at least three steps up before tumbling down without the ball in his glove.

"You're trying to keep your eyes on the balls and pick up your legs as high as possible, but it never feels like enough," Cain said. "It felt like the first two steps were good and after that, feel like my legs just gave out.

"At the end of the day, the hill won."

Yost was still impressed by the commitment and grace shown in the effort.

"I thought it was phenomenal," Yost said. "Most guys, they go up the hill, they take a nosedive on the first step. That would have been one heck of a web gem."

Yost said he plans to have Cain serve as the designated hitter for Wednesday's series finale to "lighten the load" off the hamstrings, which could be mighty sore after a night when Cain was all over the field.

"I fell short on the catch, had a few nice hits, just trying to be smart and not hurt myself anymore," Cain said.

"I'm managing pretty well right now."

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.