By Anthony DiComo and Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Edinson Volquez gave up two hits over six shutout innings and the reigning World Series champion Royals held off the Mets, 4-3, on Sunday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Kauffman Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
It was the first time in history two World Series teams faced off in the following season's opener. And it was a rematch of the Game 5 matchup between Volquez and Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and four runs (three earned).
"It was great to set the tone for the season," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "And it's pretty cool to be part of history, too."
The Royals scratched out a 4-0 lead before the Mets rallied with three runs off reliever Joakim Soria in the eighth, two on a bases-loaded flare to left from Lucas Duda. But with the tying run on second, right-hander Luke Hochevar struck out Asdrubal Cabrera for the third out.
Closer Wade Davis then closed out the Mets in the ninth.
"They have terrific arms coming out of there," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "That's what makes them so good. They have an excellent bullpen. We knew that going in. They got a terrific start from Volquez today. You don't want to go down three or four runs in the seventh, eighth or ninth against those guys."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dee-fense! The Royals, as always, flashed more terrific defense as they opened the season. Third baseman Mike Moustakas saved a run in the second when, with runners at the corners and two outs, he fielded a deep grounder at third by Travis d'Arnaud and fired a strike to first, just beating d'Arnaud. Likewise, Hosmer, at first base, may have saved a run with a diving stop on a grounder by Duda with runners on first and second and two out. And catcher Salvador Perez threw out Michael Conforto on a steal attempt from his knees.
"That's pretty much what we do," Volquez said. "The guys played great behind me."
Two hands, Yo: One of the game's most damaging plays for the Mets occurred in the bottom of the first inning, when Moustakas hit a routine liner directly at Yoenis Cespedes, who was starting in left field to accommodate Juan Lagares. After playing all but six of his 67 defensive innings this spring in center, Cespedes attempted to make a one-handed catch, but watched the ball bounce off his glove to the turf. Moustakas later came around to score on Hosmer's RBI single.
That's what speed do: The Royals manufactured a couple of runs with their legs, which is nothing new. In the fourth, Lorenzo Cain bolted from first to third on a grounder to right by Hosmer. Hosmer then scored on a sacrifice fly by Kendrys Morales. In the sixth, after Cain walked, Hosmer pushed a bunt toward third and beat the throw with a headfirst slide. Two batters later, Alex Gordon dropped an RBI single to center and the Royals led 3-0.
"That was just a heads-up play by Hoz," manager Ned Yost said. "He saw the infield shifted to the right side and he put down a good bunt. Wright made a great play to make it close at first."
Mets claw back: Momentum shifted violently in the top of the eighth, when Duda drove home the Mets' first two runs with a single, and Neil Walker's RBI fielder's choice brought them within one of the lead. An inning later, the Mets put the tying run on third base with one out against Davis, but Wright and Cespedes struck out in succession to end the game.
"You obviously want to get the run in," Wright said. "You want to elevate something to try to get it to the outfield to score the run. The last thing you want to do is … game over, but he made some good pitches. He's one of the best in the game."
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Finishing 2-for-2 with two walks, Conforto became the first Met to reach base four times on Opening Day since Xavier Nady in 2006, and the youngest to do so in franchise history.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After a down year defensively in 2015, Lagares nearly nabbed his first outfield assist of the season as Omar Infante attempted to dash first-to-third on Alcides Escobar's single in the fifth. When third-base umpire Carlos Torres called Infante safe, Wright jumped off the bag in apparent disagreement. A one-minute, 47-second replay review determined the ruling would stand, though Infante did not come around to score.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: On Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. ET, Noah Syndergaard will face the Royals for the first time since knocking Escobar to the dirt with a 98 mph fastball to open World Series Game 3. Syndergaard has said he does not expect retaliation for his purpose pitch, which angered Royals hitters at the time.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young will start Tuesday in place of Ian Kennedy, who is recovering from a tight hamstring, in a 3:15 p.m. CT start that can be seen on MLB.TV. The Royals will issue the World Series championship rings in a pregame ceremony.