Aviles' homer boosts Royals to victory

Aviles' homer boosts Royals to victory

ST. LOUIS -- There's doesn't seem to be any stopping Mike Aviles.

Aviles, the Royals' irrepressible rookie shortstop, lined a home run in the eighth inning on Tuesday night to give right-hander Kyle Davies a 2-1 Interleague victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I basically went up there to hit a ball in the gap because we had our 3-4-5 hitters coming up behind me," Aviles said. "Hopefully I'd get in scoring position."

What better scoring position than trotting around the bases?

Facing left-hander Ron Villone, Aviles drilled a 1-1 pitch into the left-field bullpen to snap a 1-1 tie. It was the third home run in 12 games for Aviles, who is batting .333 since being called up from Triple-A Omaha.

"It was going to be high, and it was a changeup. It shouldn't be high," Villone said. "Changeups should be low. I was looking for a ground ball, and I hung a pitch. A guy took advantage of it and I lost the game."

The win gave Davies a 3-0 record and the Royals a 5-2 mark in Interleague Play this year.

Not only that, the Royals have won four of their last five games after a stretch in which they were a grisly 4-19.

"It was a really rough month," manager Trey Hillman said. "I don't want to let up too much. We've got to keep grinding it out. But I think they're playing looser and even when we start out behind, they believe now that we've still got a chance to come back."

Davies gave the Royals that chance as a full house of 43,793 packed Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals struck first in the third, but it could've been a bigger inning. Cesar Izturis, batting ninth behind pitcher Joel Pineiro, got a pop-fly double and Skip Schumaker singled. First and third, no outs.

But Davies got Brendan Ryan to rap into a double play, executed nicely by Aviles. Izturis scored, but a real crisis was averted.

Davies pitched in with the Royals' first run, too, bunting Ross Gload to second base after a single. David DeJesus lined a two-out single to center and Gload was home.

This was Davies' fourth start and for the fourth straight time, he held the opposition to one run. It's all a matter of confidence built during his early-season stay with Triple-A Omaha.

"Knowing I don't have to be perfect and I can still get people out," he said.

Davies pointed out that this was the fifth straight game in which the starting pitcher had given the Royals at least seven innings, saving wear-and-tear on the bullpen.

"That way we can give the ball over to [Ron] Mahay in the eighth and give it to [Joakim] Soria in the ninth. It's an easier game that-a-way when your starter goes seven," he said.

That's exactly the way it happened against the Cardinals with Mahay and Soria each pitching a 1-2-3 inning.

In fact, Mahay was warming up to replace Davies when he looked up to see Aviles' line drive heading his way.

"It was a cool night tonight and it wasn't traveling as good as it does when it's warm out," Mahay said. "But I saw it just keep traveling out there and it was a good feeling."

Maybe he should have jumped up and caught the souvenir.

"I could've, but I don't think it would've looked good if I'd have hopped off the mound and caught it," Mahay said.

Soria followed Mahay and notched his 16th save in 17 chances, making it look easy again.

"It's never easy," Soria said.

Not much has been easy for the Royals this season, including the well-documented 12-loss skid that began with Jon Lester's no-hitter at Boston.

"The team's a whole lot better," Davies said. "I wasn't here, but this team should not have lost 12 in a row. Knock on wood, that's not going to happen again."

Aviles, who played behind Davies for Omaha, senses good things as well.

"We have a good group of veteran guys and young guys here and it makes a good environment," Aviles said. "For right now, our record doesn't show that but things are turning around."

Aviles is doing his part, even fulfilling his manager's fondest hopes.

"I was sitting there hoping somebody would go boom," Hillman said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.