Guthrie solid as Royals overpowered by Braves

Guthrie solid as Royals overpowered by Braves

ATLANTA -- Coming into Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals knew the Atlanta Braves were capable of devastating power. So seeing them hit five homers in a game didn't come as that big of a shock.

Leaving the park after a 6-3 loss, a bigger surprise was the pitcher against whom the Braves got most of those homers, right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera.

"His location wasn't very good. A lot of pitches were up and kind of down the middle," said manager Ned Yost. "He hung a changeup for a homer. But Kelvin's been almost unhittable all year long."

"Kelvin's been so good for us," said second baseman Chris Getz, who in the third inning did something almost as shocking by hitting his first home run in almost four years. "Something like that is bound to happen. It was tough for him, tough for us. It's just one of those things that happens. So we just have to bounce back tomorrow and try to scratch out a win."

Eighth-inning homers by Atlanta outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton and another by second baseman Dan Uggla broke a tie and Kansas City's backs.

Herrera (1-1) surrendered the homers and took the loss.

To show what an outlier Tuesday night was, the 23-year-old fireballer had allowed two hits in his previous six appearances on the season, covering 5 1/3 innings. He had a 0.00 ERA and had held opponents to a .111 average with 11 strikeouts, allowing just one walk and six hits. In 84 career appearances, he had allowed five home runs in 91 2/3 innings.

He will come to the park on Wednesday with a 9.00 ERA, having seen three of the 10 strikes he threw in that fateful two-thirds of an inning leave the yard. One was a 98-mph fastball. Another was a changeup.

"I don't know if he's tipping or what, but they got to him tonight," said right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and a crucial seventh-inning outfield assist, nailing Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the plate.

"I've got all the confidence in the world in that guy. Send him back out tomorrow, and I feel he'll go 1-2-3. For him, it was one of those nights. I live here and obviously, when they put this team together, they put them together to strike out and hit home runs. Tonight they were able to get five of them."

Atlanta reliever Eric O'Flaherty (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth to get the win.

The loss was a tough way for the Royals, who have now lost three of four, to begin its eight-game, 10-day, three-city road trip. The Braves extended their winning streak to 10 straight and matched their best start to a season since going 13-1 in 1994.

The Royals looked good for six as they took advantage of three Braves errors and saw a couple of long droughts end. Tops amongst the streaks put to bed was that of Getz, who ended a streak of 954 homerless at-bats. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and Francoeur ended 0-for-14 and 1-for-14 skids with back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead. Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon joined Francoeur in the two-hits club, with Gordon extending his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Jeremy Guthrie (3-0) extended his unbeaten streak to 14 straight games with the Royals (7-0, with seven no-decisions), limiting the Braves to two runs and five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked one. The Royals are 12-2 in those starts.

"I thought we had a decent game plan and were able to follow it for the most part and execute pitches," said Guthrie, who is now tied with Rich Gale for the second-longest unbeaten streak in team history, and two behind all-time leader Paul Splittorff, who did it from Aug. 13, 1977, through April 22, 1978. "This is a lineup that is obviously hot and loaded with good bats, professional hitters. So if you don't go out and execute, more times than not they're going to beat you."

Guthrie out-executed everyone in the Braves lineup but Francisco, who got him for a pair of solo homers, one on a changeup he left over the plate in the second and the other on a fastball that tied the game in the seventh. He and Atlanta starter Kris Medlen (one earned run, six hits, five strikeouts and no walks in seven frames) were both superb, although neither got a decision.

"Guthrie threw a great game. He really pitched out there," said Yost. "Both starting pitchers were tremendous. Medlen and Guthrie were hitting spots, keeping the ball down, changing speeds. It was a great game for seven-and-a-half innings."

Francisco took a 1-0 pitch from Guthrie and curled it into the seats in right field to open the scoring. With the two homers Tuesday, Guthrie has now allowed five in his last two starts -- all solo shots.

Guthrie settled down after Francisco's homer in the second, holding the Braves hitless and allowing only two baserunners -- one reaching on an error -- through the seventh, allowing the Royals to come back.

Getz started the comeback, leading off the third by blasting an 0-1 pitch about 15 rows up into right. It was his third career home run and first since July 19, 2009, when he went deep against then-Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Only Philadelphia's Ben Revere (1,043 at-bats) had a longer home run dry spell than Getz.

KC took the lead in the fourth, capitalizing on a Francisco throwing error on a Salvador Perez grounder, then getting back-to-back two-out singles from Moustakas and Francoeur.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.