Mendoza, offense struggle in I-70 loss to Cards

Mendoza, offense struggle in I-70 loss to Cards

Mendoza, offense struggle in I-70 loss to Cards
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have had trouble scoring runs all season long. And when the Cardinals are making it look easy, that adds up to a rough day at the ballpark.

St. Louis picked up where it left off after Friday's 11-run output, as the Redbirds produced another double-digit hit day to back seven strong frames by starter Adam Wainwright in an 8-2 win over Kansas City on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.

Wainwright was terrific, holding the Royals to two runs on just six hits in seven innings. He allowed only three baserunners through the first five innings and earned his sixth win of the year.

It was Wainwright's second straight strong outing against the Royals, as the right-hander tossed seven innings of one-run ball last Sunday at Busch Stadium. He struck out eight batters in that game, allowing just five hits.

"He might have been a little better this time than he was last Sunday," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"He was pretty much doing the same game plan as he was in St. Louis," said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. "He was coming in hard with that cutter and mixing his offspeed stuff away. He was just working both sides of the plate really good, and he pitched a great game."

The Royals weren't the only ones impressed with Wainwright's outing.

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"He grabs the ball right now and he knows in his mind that he's going to execute exactly what he wants to do," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I think he was very hopeful early on. I don't think he was quite convinced no matter what he was saying. But now you can see it. That's the pitcher that was dominant in the past."

Wainwright also received plenty of run support.

The Cards did the bulk of their damage in the top of the fifth. With one out, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Furcal and Jon Jay strung together three straight singles. Jay's hit plated Descalso and bumped the lead to 2-0.

Matt Holliday made it four in a row, smoking a line drive at third baseman Mike Moustakas, who tried to play the ball on a short hop. The ball careened off his glove and rolled up the third-base line, allowing Furcal to score and give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.

Holliday was the last batter to face Royals starter Luis Mendoza, who exited after 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Kelvin Herrera could not put an immediate halt to the hit parade, though, as Carlos Beltran bounced a single through the right side of the infield to score Jay and make it 4-0.

Mendoza (2-4) took the loss, surrendering four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks.

"The whole game, I just tried to pitch on contact, tried to stay in the game long enough. In the fifth inning, the ground balls found the holes," Mendoza said.

"[Mendoza] had to labor more this start. Last start he kept his pitch count down and was working hard. He just got to the 80-pitch mark and that was it. They put together three or four singles there in a row. He just got his pitch count up into the fifth inning," Yost said. "The pitches that they ended up hitting, they weren't horrible pitches. They just found holes."

After the Cardinals chased Mendoza, they weren't finished scoring runs. Furcal added an RBI single in the top of the sixth for a 5-0 advantage. And Allen Craig drove in three runs over the final three innings -- crushing a two-run homer to left off reliever Greg Holland in the top of the seventh. The 413-foot blast was Craig's ninth of the season. He followed with an RBI single in the top of the ninth to plate the Cardinals' eighth and final run.

Meanwhile, the Royals continued to experience difficulty at the plate. The bright spot was Alex Gordon, who was 2-for-3 on the afternoon with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gordon accounted for the team's two runs. He smashed a Wainwright pitch to center field that was badly misplayed by Jay, as the ball flew over his head and went to the wall for a triple. Humberto Quintero scored from first, cutting the Royals' deficit to 5-1. Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to third to bring home Gordon and make it 5-2.

Afterward, the Royals were searching for a way to explain their offensive struggles.

"Everybody's working their tail off offensively trying to get some consistency in our game and score some runs. I mean, we're at the bottom of the league in runs scored. We're working on our approach. We're working on other things offensively," Yost said. "They're doing what they need to do in terms of their work and preparation. They just need to take it to the field."

Adding insult to injury might have been the thousands of cheering red-clad Cardinals fans that remained by game's end.

"It's the rivalry. When we were in St. Louis, there was a good amount of blue there too," Hosmer said. "They have a real strong fan base and we're right here in their neck of the woods. It's part of the rivalry, and we all understand that. That's what makes it fun."

What hasn't been fun for the Royals are back-to-back offensive barrages by St. Louis.

"Tough stretch these last two games. Their offense has been firing on all cylinders, and our offense hasn't been able to keep up," Gordon said. "It's a big game [Sunday]. You don't want to get swept at home, especially by the Cardinals. We've got a tough task."

Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.