Cards' homers back Lackey in win over Royals

Cards' homers back Lackey in win over Royals

ST. LOUIS -- In a makeup game featuring teams with the two best records in baseball, the Cardinals held on for a 4-3 win over the Royals on Thursday night behind a pair of two-run homers and a great escape by closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Randal Grichuk tied the game with his second-inning blast, and Matt Carpenter followed with a homer in the third to stake the Cards to a two-run lead that held until the ninth. Rosenthal allowed the Royals to get one of those runs back with consecutive hits to lead off the inning before he nailed down his 30th save with three straight outs as the potential tying run loomed at third.

"Nobody is enjoying it in the middle of it, but when you see guys somehow figure out how to get out of it, that's impressive," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Once again, not how you design it when you get a two-run lead into the ninth, but a great job of figuring out how to win it."

After allowing a pair of first-inning runs, Cardinals starter John Lackey shut the Royals out over the rest of his seven-inning start to put his ERA in 10 home starts at 1.97. Royals starter Chris Young lasted just three innings and allowed all four runs.

Lackey earns the win

Kansas City interrupted a six-game homestand to take the quick jaunt to the eastern part of the state and play a game that had been washed out on June 14. Both teams donned throwback uniforms to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the I-70 World Series.

Carpenter finds wood: Carpenter's go-ahead, third-inning homer was his 10th blast of the season, but just his second in 50 games. It followed a leadoff single by Kolten Wong and staked St. Louis to a two-run lead. Four of Carpenter's homers this year have come against American League opponents. More >

"I have been feeling pretty good the last couple days," Carpenter said. "Really, since the break, I've felt good. I just haven't had anything to show for it."

Carpenter's two-run homer

All is Rosey: The Royals had three chances to get the potential tying run home from third base in the ninth inning, but could not do so after Omar Infante tripled to plate Alex Rios and cut the Cardinals' lead to one against Rosenthal. Pinch-hitter Dusty Coleman struck out, Alcides Escobar grounded to Carpenter, who threw home to retire Infante, and then Mike Moustakas grounded out to end the game. More >

Rosenthal's 30th save

"I found myself in a tough situation there with a runner on third and no outs," Rosenthal said. "[I] just knew that I had to bear down and make some pitches. Just trying to rise up to the challenge and focusing one pitch at a time, and not making too much of it."

Turning two: No reliever in the Majors has induced more double plays since the start of the 2013 season than Seth Maness, who collected his 33rd in that span with a timely twin killing on Thursday. With the potential tying runs on base in the eighth, Maness induced a double play off the bat of Salvador Perez, who had earlier driven in Kansas City's first run.

Maness induces DP to end the jam

Taking a gamble: The Royals pinch-hit for Young after just three innings, sending Kendrys Morales to the plate while trailing, 4-2, with two on and two out in the fourth. Morales flied out to the warning track in center, and Kris Medlen came on to pitch the fourth and fifth innings for Kansas City. More >

"His pitch count was already at [68] after three innings and we saw a chance to hopefully get back in the game right there," Royals manager Ned Yost said of the early hook. "There's no guarantee of what's going to happen later in the game, so you take your chance right there to try and get back in the game."

"I've already told a couple of guys, I'm never, ever going to complain about a big league scoreboard having a zero on it. Any time you can put up a zero against a quality team like this, it's a win." -- Medlen, on throwing two scoreless innings in his second game back from Tommy John surgery

Medlen fans Peralta

"For me, I just felt like I was physically capable of going out there and contributing for the team. I knew we'd probably need it with other guys being down as well. I was happy to go out there and do what I did." -- Rosenthal, on convincing Matheny to pitch him for a third straight day

The Cardinals (61-34) and Royals (57-37) are assured of boasting the Majors' best records for at least another day. It is the first time since 1944 that teams from Missouri have had the two best records this late into a season. Seventy-one years ago, the Cardinals and Browns did so on Aug. 18.

First-base umpire Phil Cuzzi initially ruled Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain out at first after Cain dribbled a ball to shortstop Jhonny Peralta with one out in the third inning. The Royals challenged the call, and after a one-minute, 22-second review, it was ruled that Cain beat Peralta's throw. The next batter, Eric Hosmer, grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Cain gets first after review

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny challenged a call in the fourth when Royals catcher Perez picked off Grichuk at third for the first out of the inning. After a two-minute, 14-second review, the call was confirmed. The Cardinals came away from the inning empty-handed.

Royals: Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie gets the ball on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT for the opener of a three-game set against the Astros at Kauffman Stadium.

Cardinals: Winless in his first five Major League starts, Tim Cooney will get another crack at a victory as he starts Friday's series opener against the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm CT.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for and listen to her podcast. David Cobb is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.