KANSAS CITY -- No. 1 starter Cole Hamels is doing his part to keep the Rangers afloat while they try to figure out about the rest of the rotation.
With trade rumors flying everywhere, the Rangers' big acquisition from last season won for the second time since the All-Star break in a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Saturday night. Hamels had to battle the heat to get through 5 1/3 innings, but he gave up just one run and now has the only two wins for the club since the break.
Hamels also has the last three wins by a Rangers starting pitcher. The last starter other than Hamels to win a game was Martin Perez on June 26 against the Red Sox at home.
"It's not like we're down and out," Hamels said. "We're still in first place [in the American League West] and that's where we're trying to stay, and what we're trying to maintain. Just getting in a good rhythm again and once we're in that rhythm anything can happen. When you start putting added pressure on something that's when you get yourself in trouble. You've got to know when to stay in your lane."
Royals starter Yordano Ventura took the loss despite beginning the night looking great and ending it in pain. He set down the side in order over the first three innings before giving up a two-run homer to Nomar Mazara in the fourth. Mazara also had an RBI double in the fifth.
"All in all, the only player that hurt [Ventura] was Mazara," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was the only damage that was really done [against him]."
The Royals trailed, 7-1, going into the ninth and scored three runs. But reliever Sam Dyson, with the bases loaded and one out, got Salvador Perez to ground into a game-ending double play.
"Obviously the ninth inning didn't play out like we wanted," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "When things are challenging and wins are not readily available, it's a challenge, these guys gutted it out. It's a win, we'll celebrate it and come back tomorrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hamels grits through: The lefty threw 105 pitches, while three errors by his defense helped extend the pitch count. Hamels' biggest moment came in the fifth when a two-out double by Kendrys Morales put runners on second and third. Hamels, leading 3-1, got out of that jam by getting All-Star catcher Perez to pop out.
"You just try to stay cool and plug away," Hamels said. "They're a good team. I was able to do that at times. There were times I wasn't really in a good situation, but you just have to battle and stick to the game plan. Try to make pitches when you have to."
Ventura's injury scare: The right-hander retired the first nine batters, but had some trouble with the Rangers his second time through the lineup. His night was eventually cut short as he took a grounder off the ribs with two out in the fifth. Ventura was able to grab the ball and make the throw over to first to get the final out, but he was replaced by Joakim Soria to start the sixth. Ventura is day to day with a right rib contusion. More >
"I got hit in the ribs, obviously, and lost my breath right away," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "It hurt at first, but I recuperated pretty good."
With Ventura out of the game, Yost relied on Soria to pitch the sixth and seventh innings. Soria made it through the sixth inning unscathed, but he gave up four runs in the seventh.
Rangers deliver in clutch: The Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through six innings. Then they got two big two-out hits in those situations in the seventh to break it open. Ian Desmond had an RBI single and Adrian Beltre smashed a three-run home run.
"All up and down the lineup we had good at-bats," Banister said.
Cutting it close: After not capitalizing with runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, which included a bases loaded opportunity in the fourth, the Royals finally began to rally in the ninth. With one run already across, Eric Hosmer stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Hosmer slid head-first into the first-base bag for an infield hit after an out call was overturned.
The Royals eventually brought the potential winning run to the plate, down 7-4 with the bases loaded, but Perez grounded into a double play.
"It's a big deficit heading into the last inning," Hosmer said. "[The game] just kind of got away from us before we could fire back at their bullpen."
BELTRE TIES PIAZZA
Beltre's home run was the 427th of his career. He was tied with Hall of Famer Billy Williams for 49th all-time. Now he is tied with Mike Piazza and Miguel Cabrera for 47th. Piazza will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Beltre's 1,527 RBIs now place him 50th all-time.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander A.J. Griffin will start the finale of this three-game series on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Griffin is 0-1 with with a 6.17 ERA in five starts since being activated from the disabled list on June 25.
Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (8-8, 4.72 ERA) will get the ball on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals went 5-2 in Volquez's previous seven starts. In that span, Volquez posted four quality starts and made it through six innings in all but one outing.