"Everything was working on our side, but it's a game until the 27th out," said reliever Roman Colon, who contributed three scoreless innings to Kansas City's effort.
Indeed, manager Ned Yost was feeling pretty confident.
"After we took the lead in the seventh, I figured we were in great shape," Yost said. "I didn't count on Holland and Collins and Herrera really not being sharp, and none of the three were."
The afternoon began with an umpire's controversial call. Hmm, now when has that happened in a game involving these two clubs? Oh yes, that 1985 World Series thing. On Saturday, there was much less at stake and it was in the first inning, but it was a dandy ruckus in its own right.
Just when you think you've seen everything in baseball. How often does a triple play get nullified?
It happened after the Royals' Alex Gordon and Chris Getz began the game with back-to-back singles. Eric Hosmer hit a shot back at the mound where Cards starting pitcher Joe Kelly and, apparently home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley, thought he caught the ball on the fly.
"Honestly, I thought I caught it," Kelly said. "I scooped it up and I held it up to see if anyone would make a call. I didn't see a call."
Kelly threw to first baseman Allen Craig for what he thought was a second out. Meantime, Danley made a belated out call on Hosmer. Craig returned the ball to Kelly who, alerted by teammates, threw to shortstop Rafael Furcal at second base for apparent out No. 3.
Indeed initially, with Gordon and Getz each moving up a base, it seemed like a 1-3-1-6 triple play. But Yost, Hosmer and the other Royals were certain Kelly had trapped the ball.
"I was just shocked because I saw the ball bounce," Hosmer said. "He made the throw at first and I'm running off the field, and that's when [Danley] suddenly called it. I just asked him calmly to go talk to the [other umpires] and get it straightened out, and they saw the same thing that we saw."
Yost used the same approach and the triple play was overturned.
"We went out and said, 'Look, Kerwin, he didn't catch the ball,' he said he'd check and they reversed it then," Yost said. "The other umpires saw it. And that's what we want them to do, we want them to get it right. I applaud them for doing that."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was predictably upset and, after being permitted a very long rebuttal period, was ejected by Danley. Play finally resumed and the Royals got one run, on Moustakas' RBI single.
Perhaps the Cardinals' ire put fire in their bats because in their half of the first, they bombed Royals left-hander Bruce Chen for two homers and four runs. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina both cranked out two-run homers, just a preamble to their productive days. Holliday finished with five RBIs, Molina four.
Long ago Royals star Carlos Beltran contributed a hit to each of the Cardinals' first two innings. He finished with three hits and has a nine-game streak in which he's batting .500 (17-for-34).
After the Cardinals' two-run second inning, it was 6-1 and Chen was out of the game.
As the temperature rose to 93 degrees, the Royals kept chipping away and, with Alcides Escobar's two-run single capping a three-run seventh, the Royals surged ahead, 7-6.
"I was really proud of our offense today, the way they really stayed after it. Down, 6-1, and they kept putting together good at-bats," Yost said. "Battled back, took the lead and then from the seventh inning on, we really struggled to command the ball for some reason."
Collins began the Cardinals' half of the seventh issuing a four-pitch walk and a single. Later Holland came on and gave two run-scoring hits -- to those annoying guys, Holliday and Molina -- and the Cardinals were ahead, 9-7. In the eighth, Herrera surrendered an insurance run.
"It was a rough day," Collins said.
But, despite the loss, it was an encouraging day for the Royals at the plate. In their previous nine games, they had averaged a mere 2.5 runs. They'd managed to win five of the nine games, but were still hungry for a more vigorous offense.
These seven runs were welcome, even in a loss.
"We've got to keep plugging away and keep grinding it out," Moustakas said. "We put together some really good at-bats today. ... It's starting to come together for us. We're going to get this thing going."