Loney breaks up pitchers' duel with winner in 9th

Myers' hit sparks rally following Archer's seven scoreless innings

Loney breaks up pitchers' duel with winner in 9th

KANSAS CITY -- One run decided Tuesday night's Rays-Royals contest; there could be no other way.

Quality starts by Chris Archer and Yordano Ventura, two rising pitching stars, highlighted a 1-0 Rays win determined on James Loney's RBI single in the ninth.

The win was the Rays' first in three games and also ended their streak of losses at Kauffman Stadium at seven.

"Just another well-played game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And we got them in Kansas City. Finally."

Wil Myers seemed an unlikely candidate to start the winning rally based on the way things had been going for the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year. He entered Tuesday night's game hitting .185 while riding an 0-for-12 streak. By the time he stepped to the plate in the ninth, he had struck out three times in three at-bats, further dropping his average as he dug in to lead off the ninth.

"You want to get off to a hot start, and it's my worst start in professional baseball," Myers said. "It's just one of those things that happens. I've gone through a streak that's worse than this; it just didn't happen to be at the beginning of the season. Looking up at my .172 average, it's not too fun."

Despite the negative tide Myers had been battling, he managed to come through with a dribbler off Royals closer Greg Holland that turned into an infield single, and the Rays had life in the ninth.

"Looks like a line drive [in the scorebook]," Myers joked, "so I'll take it. It did not hit the fountain, but I'll take it."

Two outs later he moved to second on a wild pitch with Loney at the plate.

Loney singled on a 3-2 slider from Holland, and Myers raced home to score the game's only run.

"You want to hit it hard, right?" Loney said. "I hit that one hard, and you want to hit it hard and not at somebody. He didn't get to that one."

On Saturday night against the Rangers, Loney also came through with the winning hit. Maddon loves having his first baseman at the plate in clutch situations for one reason.

"Because he's calm," Maddon said. "James Loney does not get excited too often. And I appreciate that about him."

Grant Balfour then pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win while earning his second save of the season. Archer and Ventura started for the Rays and the Royals, respectively. Neither received a decision, but each made his mark, raising eyebrows in a game neither deserved to lose.

Archer gave the Rays a second consecutive quality start, holding the Royals to no runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four in seven innings.

Archer noted that Tuesday night was "one of those nights" in which catcher Jose Molina and he were completely in sync.

"I was like his robot," Archer said. "He would punch in a combination, tell me what pitch to throw, and I threw it. We worked together really well. Defense made some outstanding plays that got me out of some big jams. Tonight was an all-around team effort. Pitching, defense, offense came around when we needed it to."

Archer made more than a favorable impression on Royals manager Ned Yost.

"I saw some really big pitching on the other side," Yost said. "This guy had a big league two-seamer, 92 to 95 miles an hour, throwing strikes with it. Real efficient with the two-seamer and the slider. He had some nasty stuff working."

Unfortunately for the Archer and the Rays, Ventura also put zeros on the scoreboard in his 2014 opener and fourth career Major League start.

The hard-throwing right-hander was originally scheduled to debut for the Royals on Thursday, but that game was rained out. Rather than have him pitch Friday, the Royals opted to have him skip a turn to keep the rest of the rotation on regular rest.

Ventura spent the weekend in the Royals' bullpen but did not pitch. The days off clearly did not hurt.

The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic held the Rays scoreless on two hits and no walks while striking out six in six innings.

"Even though there was a lot of time between pitching, that's my job to go out there and pitch," Ventura said. "No matter how many days I get off, I have to do my job, and I was glad I was able to do a good job tonight."

Ventura "is really, really good," Myers said. "I actually faced him in 2012 in the Futures Game here, and he's a lot better now than he was then. His off-speed was really good. He commanded all of his pitches."

Tampa Bay has not lost to a starter 22 years old or younger in 16 consecutive tries, even though its four hits for the game matched a season low.

Tuesday night's victory gave the Rays their first win at Kauffman Stadium since July 24, 2011. Wednesday afternoon they would like to make it two in a row in the rubber game of the series.

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