ST. LOUIS | It seems the Royals left their offense in the Arizona desert. And it didn’t matter.
Rookie shortstop Mike Aviles further tightened his grip on a starting job Tuesday night by lining a one-out homer in the eighth inning that broke a tie and boosted the Royals to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Aviles’ homer was his third in 10 games since replacing Tony Peňa as the club’s regular shortstop. His 388-foot drive came on a 1-1 pitch from reliever Ron Villone and landed in the Royals’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall.
That was sufficient for the Royals to open this year’s installment of the I-70 Series and reward Kyle Davies for seven strong innings. Ron Mahay and Joakim Soria each pitched one scoreless inning in closed out the victory.
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Soria got his 16th save in 17 opportunities.
Davies, 3-0, turned in his best outing to date by limiting the Cardinals to one run and five hits in seven innings. Davies has allowed one run in each of his four starts since arriving from Class AAA Omaha.
Villone, 1-2, was the loser.
The Royals have won four of their last five in improving to 29-42. They also improved to 5-2 this season against National League opponents.
Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro has floundered in recent years, but he continued his career-long trend of pitching well against the Royals by yielding just one run in seven innings.
Pineiro settled for a no-decision but lowered his ERA to 3.12 in 10 career appearances against the Royals.
Davies worked around walks in the first two innings but didn’t yield a hit until Cesar Izturis opened the third with a bloop double to left. The ball fell in front of José Guillen, but Guillen made a strong throw to second that arrived in time to get Izturis.
Mark Grudzielanek was slow to apply the tag, and Izturis was safe.
Skip Schumaker followed with a soft single to left that also fell in front of Guillen. Izturis held at third but scored when Brendan Ryan grounded into a double play.
That was the only run the Cardinals got in suffering just their third loss in nine games.
The Royals mounted a threat in the fourth on successive singles by Alex Gordon and Guillen. The single by Guillen extended his hitting streak to 11 games, which matched a career high.
The threat fizzled with Grudzielanek grounded into a double play. Mark Teahen ended the inning by taking a third strike.
The Royals finally broke through against Pineiro after Ross Gload’s one-out single in the fifth. Gload went to second on Davies’ sacrifice before David DeJesus delivered an RBI single.
A nice running catch by Schumaker in left field prevented the Royals from taking the lead in the sixth. Guillen lined a one-out double over the head of center fielder Rick Ankiel and would have scored easily without Schumaker’s leaping back-handed catch on Teahen’s slicing two-out drive.
Davies pitched out of a first-and-second jam with one out in the sixth. Troy Glaus flied to right, which allowed Ryan Ludwick to reach third, but Davies struck out Chris Duncan.