ST. LOUIS | What’s this? Some late thunder from the Royals for a second straight night? Yes and another come-from-behind victory in the I-70 Series.
David DeJesus and Alex Gordon hit homers in the eighth inning Wednesday night that rallied the Royals to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
It marked the first time all season — in this, their 38th opportunity, that the Royals won when trailing after seven innings. Mike Aviles’ homer in the eighth inning Tuesday merely broke a tie in a 2-1 victory.
The rally enabled Brian Bannister, 6-6, to get his first victory in a night game in 11 starts dating to Aug. 28, 2007, when he beat the Tigers 6-3 at Kauffman Stadium.
Bannister gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings and had already left the game for a pinch-hitter in the eighth before DeJesus and Gordon went deep against Cardinals reliever Kyle McClelland.
The Cardinals made it interesting in their eighth by opening the inning with two singles against Ramon Ramirez, but Ramirez and Ron Mahay retired the next three hitters before Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his 17th save in 18 opportunities.
The Royals, 30-42, have now won five of their last six. They are also 6-2 this season against National League opponents.
Cardinals starter Braden Looper deserved better after limiting the Royals to one run and five hits in seven innings with no walks or strikeouts in a 92-pitch performance.
Looper handed a 2-1 lead to McClelland, 0-2, in the eighth inning.
The Royals pulled even on DeJesus’ one-out homer and surged ahead on Gordon’s two-out blast. Both went to right field and silenced the sellout crowd of 43,810.
The Cardinals came right back against Ramirez in their eighth. Skip Schumaker led off with a single to left and went to second on Aaron Miles’ ground-ball single through the right side.
Ramirez retired Ryan Ludwick on a hard fly to left before manager Trey Hillman summoned Mahay to face Rick Ankiel in a lefty-lefty matchup.
That worked. Mahay struck out Ankiel — and then ended the inning by retiring right-hander Troy Glaus on a grounder to short.
The Cardinals nicked Bannister for a quick run in the first inning after Schumaker led off with a single and raced to third on Miles’ hit-and-run single. Ludwick followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right.
The Royals tried to answer in the second when one-out singles by Mark Grudzielanek and Mark Teahen put runners at first and third. But Looper escaped when John Buck hit a soft liner to short, and Ross Gload grounded out to first.
Bannister pitched around leadoff singles in the second and third innings but coughed up a two-out run in the fourth when Grudzielanek couldn’t handle Jason LaRue’s bleeder up the middle.
The Cardinals had runners at first and third with two outs when LaRue pushed a soft liner that kicked off Bannister’s glove. Grudzielanek reached the ball behind second with plenty of time for a force at second.
But Grudzielanek failed to make a clean pickup with a back-handed stab, then lost a foot race with Chris Duncan to second. LaRue was credited with an RBI single, and the Cardinals led 2-0.
St. Louis got another break in the sixth when DeJesus lost Ludwick’s routine fly to center in the lights. The ball fell for a leadoff double.
Then, Bannister benefited from some great defense after Ankiel sent left fielder José Guillen to the wall for the first out. Ludwick tried to advance on the catch, but Guillen made a terrific throw to third for a double play.
It was Guillen’s sixth assist of the season.
Gordon opened the Royals’ seventh with a ground-rule double to right, but Looper was poised to escape after retiring Guillen and Grudzielanek on fly balls.
But Teahen reached on an infield single, and Buck followed with an RBI single. It was the first run yielded by Looper in 18 innings over three games.
The rally ended there, though. Gload stranded runners at first and second by hitting a weak grounder to first.
Bannister nearly gave the run back in the St. Louis seventh after LaRue blooped a one-out single to right. Pinch-hitter Cesar Izturis hit a liner back to Bannister, who made the catch and had LaRue dead for a double play — until he threw the ball over Gload’s head at first.
LaRue went to the third before the Royals could retrieve the ball, but Bannister got out of the inning when Guillen made a nice running catch on Adam Kennedy’s sinking liner.