KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Danny Duffy worked six scoreless innings and Alex Rios and Alcides Escobar delivered early run-scoring hits as the Royals won their sixth in a row with a 3-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Duffy allowed four hits and three walks, but worked around trouble in the second and fourth innings. Toronto put the first two on in the fourth, but Duffy retired the next three. Rios had a run-scoring double in the second inning and Escobar added a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Eric Hosmer went 4-for-4 for Kansas City and Salvador Perez added a solo homer in the eighth.
"[Duffy] maneuvered through a real tough lineup," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had stretches where he'd get his pitch count up a little bit, fell behind on hitters, but always pitched his way out of it or made big pitches when he needed to to finish the at-bat off."
Toronto right-hander Marco Estrada kept his club in the game by working 6 2/3 efficient innings, allowing just two runs. Estrada surrendered nine hits, but was able to limit the damage. Toronto -- the highest-scoring team in the Major Leagues -- has been shut out in 24 consecutive innings.
The Royals are a season-high 18 games over .500 at 51-33, while the Blue Jays dropped under .500 at 44-45.
"They're their old lively self, it's just a lot of confidence right now that when we step on that field, we feel like we're going to win a baseball game," Yost said.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons saw his team pressure Duffy in the early innings. But Toronto couldn't break through and the Royals' bullpen shut the door over the final three innings.
"You could say [Duffy] was effectively wild," Gibbons said. "He's got a good arm. He clutched up and made a big pitch here or there when he needed it. He's a great competitor."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Comeback Shot: Estrada endured a scary moment in the first inning when Hosmer's smash through the box hit him in the right leg. Estrada was met at the mound by the Blue Jays' medical staff, but was able to continue and thus saved the Toronto bullpen a full night of wear and tear. More >
Hot night for Hos: Hosmer went 4-for-4 on the night with hits in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings. But the Royals left him stranded all four times in his hottest night of the 11-game homestand. Entering the game, he was hitting .219 (7-for-32) in the first eight games of the homestand. It was also his first three-hit game since May 14.
Rios reaches milestone: After reaching on a single in the fourth inning, Rios stole second base for the 250th steal of his career. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI double in the second inning that gave the Royals a 1-0 lead, recording hits in back-to-back games for the first time since June 26-27 in the first two games against Oakland.
"He was swinging the bat so well before he broke his hand out of spring training," Yost said. "Sometimes it just takes time to get in that groove, and it looks like he's starting to get there."
"We've cooled off a little bit, but we've also run into some good pitching. That's the way baseball works." -- Gibbons, on his team being shut out in consecutive games despite being the highest-scoring offense in the Majors this season
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the sixth inning, Royals left fielder Jarrod Dyson bunted between the mound and first base and was called safe as Estrada made the throw. Toronto challenged the call, which was overturned after one minute, 18 seconds for the final out of the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle will try to reach double figures in wins when he puts his 9-5 record on the line Saturday in his last start before the All-Star break. Buehrle has worked 114 1/3 innings and is on track for a 15th consecutive season of 200 or more innings.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young takes the mound on three days' rest in his 13th start of the season Saturday afternoon in the second game against the Blue Jays. Young is 2-0 with a 5.17 ERA in three career games against Toronto. He is also 22-13 in day-game starts.