KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Saturday produced another pitcher's duel in the I-70 Series and, this time, the Royals cracked first when Matt Holliday's booming two-run homer in the eighth inning lifted t he St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
It amounted to playback. The Royals won Friday's opener by scoring three times in the seventh inning as Jeff Francis outlasted Chris Carpenter in a 3-0 victory. The series concludes this afternoon.
Holliday's homer was a 433-foot splash into the left-field fountains and broke a scoreless tie. It came against Blake Wood, who had just replaced Tim Collins to afford the Royals with a right-on-right matchup after Albert Pujols' one-out single.
"It was a middle-in fastball." Holliday said, "and I put a decent swing on it."
Wood worked the count to 2-1 before Holliday unloaded on a 96-mph fastball for his sixth homer. Those two runs also ended a string of 24 consecutive innings by Royals pitcher s over three games without allowing a run.
"I left a pitch a little out over the plate," Wood said. "I've thrown that pitch a lot of times in my career and, most of the time, it's not hit like that."
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (4-3) held the Royals to four hits in eight innings before Fernando Salas secured his sixth save in six chances by pitching around Eric Hosmer's two-out single in the ninth.
"Our offense really hasn't done much lately," left fielder Alex Gordon said, "so we need to pick it up a little bit. We've got to start helping out our pitchers. You give up three runs to the Cardinals, I think that's a pretty good job."
The Royals scored 14 runs in their last eight games while being shut out twice and scored once in two other games. They are 2-6 in that span, which drops them to 22-23 .
St. Louis (27-20) added an insurance run in the ninth inning against Robinson Tejeda, who made his first big-league appearance since a sore shoulder forced him to the disabled list after an April 12 outing at Minnesota.
Tejeda allowed a single and a walk while making two wild pitches before Ryan Theriot hit a sacrifice fly for the game's final run. Afterward, Tejeda admitted he was rusty but promised, "I'll get there."
The Cardinals misfired on some early scoring opportunities against rookie Nate Adcock, who made his first career start by replacing injured Kyle Davies in the rotation. But the best scoring chance through the first seven innings belonged to the Royals.
It came in the fourth.
Westbrook had not surrendered a hit before Gordon opened the inning with a shattered-bat single to center. Melky Cabrera followed with a soft floating single to left. Gordon raced to third, and Cabrera advanced to second on the throw.
A four-pitch walk to Hosmer loaded the bases with no outs, but it came to nothing.
Westbrook got Jeff Francoeur to hit a hopper back to the mound, which resulted in a home-to-first double play. Billy Butler then grounded out to short.
"I was able to get out of that jam in the fourth," Westbrook said, "and kind of really settled in. (I was) still not out of the woods there with a double play. I made a decent pitch to Butler, and Theriot made a great play (at short)."
The Royals were also picked off first base in the sixth and seventh innings. Catcher Yadier Molina caught Gordon in the sixth before Westbrook nailed Mike Aviles for the final out in the seventh.
"When your offense is struggling," Gordon said, "and you get picked off like we did today, that's what is going to happen you're going to put a zero up. I think we just had a couple of brain (cramps) on the basepaths, and mine was one of them."
Adcock worked five scoreless innings before exiting because of pitch-count limitations. He threw 72 pitches after not exceeding 45 pitches in any of his eight relief appearances.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have any nerves," Adcock admitted. "I felt stronger in the fourth or fifth than I did in the rest of the game. I felt like I belonged out there. It's unfortunate we couldn't pull it out."
Louis Coleman replaced Adcock to start the sixth and retired four straight hitters before Cabrera lost Allen Craig's high fly to center in the sun with one out in the seventh inning. The ball bounced over the wall for a rule-book double.
The Royals brought in Collins for a left-on-left matchup against Daniel Descalso, who fouled out to the catcher. Collins walked Tyler Greene but ended the inning by retiring Theriot on a fly to right.
Collins (2-2) departed after allowing Pujols' one-out single in the eighth, which set the stage for Wood and Holliday.
"There are a lot of pitches thrown over the middle that people either foul off or ground out," Wood said. "He put it in the fountain. He did what he's supposed to do with a bad pitch. That's that."