Command performance: Kennedy does it again

Right-hander goes 7 strong for second straight gem with Royals

Command performance: Kennedy does it again

HOUSTON -- You might say right-hander Ian Kennedy is enjoying his time with his new team.

For the second straight outing, Kennedy benefited from great defense and a potent offense, this time in a Royals 6-2 win over the Astros on Thursday.

Last Saturday, Kennedy threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in a 7-0 win over the Twins. This time, Kennedy carried a no-hitter into the sixth and finished with seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball. He struck out seven.

"He was every bit as good tonight as he was the first time out," manager Ned Yost said. "Just great stuff, great command."

But what had Kennedy grinning afterward was another night of terrific defense behind him.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain took a hit away early with a running catch in the alley. Shortstop Alcides Escobar made perhaps the play of the season with a running, over-the-shoulder catch that he turned into a double play. And right fielder Paulo Orlando scooped up a short blooper and forced a runner at second base with a perfect throw.

"It just gives you so much confidence to pitch in front of them," Kennedy said. "The range they have in the outfield and the infield is amazing. Just knowing that balls aren't going to drop anywhere, you can really relax and pitch your game."

Kennedy, though, shouldn't sell himself short. He faced the minimum number of hitters through five innings, serving up only a walk to Colby Rasmus in the second. Rasmus was thrown out trying to steal.

"I knew I had [a no-hitter] going," Kennedy said. "You work from the windup enough, you have to turn and look at the scoreboard."

The no-hit bid ended when Carlos Gomez hit a single up the middle to lead off the sixth.

"It was a curve, a pretty good one," Kennedy said. "He just stayed with it."

But the Astros' rally was short-lived. Marwin Gonzalez hit the next ball to short center, where Escobar started his magical play.

"That was probably the best play I've ever seen in person," Kennedy said.

The only damage the Astros did off Kennedy was a solo homer in the seventh from Jose Altuve, who roped a liner to right-center.

"That was a fastball down and away," Kennedy said, shaking his head. "I don't know how he hit that. I'd throw that pitch 100 more times just to see if he could do that again."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.