KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Maybe Chris Getz deserved a break and, either way, the Royals sorely needed one.
So when Getz's hopper to the left of the mound in the eighth inning Saturday night skimmed off the fingertips of Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija, and produced the winning run in a 3-2 victory, it was embraced with Christmas morning joy.
Getz's single came with two outs and runners at second and third — and one night after his failure to turn a grounder into an inning-ending double play allowed the Cubs to score twice in the ninth inning for a 6-4 victory in the series opener.
"That's the best thing about this game," Getz said. "You don't have to wait a week. You get to do something the next day, if you're playing every day, to make something good happen.
"How quickly things can change. Last night, I was going home and... well, not sleeping well. Let's put it that way."
The Royals snapped a six-game losing streak and won for just the second time in their last 10 games. They set up Getz's game-winner through the gifts of two walks and a passed ball.
Getz's hopper was to Samardzija's right, and he deflected it to shortstop Starlin Castro, whose throw to first was too late to get Getz.
"I couldn't stop myself," Samardzjia said. "I saw it coming and thought I had a chance at it. In hindsight, when you've got a great athlete like Castro back there at short, you've got to take your odds that he's going to be able to make that play.
"It was close even though I touched it, so if I don't touch it, he probably makes that play."
"Off the bat," Getz said, "I was thinking it was going to get up the middle (and into the outfield). I talked to Castro, too, and asked, 'Is that getting through?' He said, 'Oh, yeah, it's getting through, and you're getting two ribbies.' "
Getz and the Royals settled for one, and it was enough.
Royals rookie Danny Duffy allowed two runs — on successive homers in the sixth — over a career-high seven innings in what might be his final start before returning to the minors. Kyle Davies is expected to return next week from the disabled list.
"I've still yet to hear anything," Duffy said, "but it's not going to faze me at all because I know I'll be here in the long run. I'm lucky to be here at all (right now). I think it's just a coincidence that I finally went deep into the game.
"I wasn't pitching for my job today. I was pitching to help this team win."
Duffy was far more efficient than in his seven previous starts. He threw just 91 pitches while striking out two and walking one. His only hiccup came in the sixth, when he surrendered homers to Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto.
It was sufficient to leave Duffy with a no-decision.
"That's the best game he's thrown since he's been here," manager Ned Yost said. "He started to lose his breaking ball in the seventh. So we decided we'd go to (Greg) Holland with the meat of that order coming up."
Holland (2-1) got the victory, after a scoreless eighth, when Joakim Soria struck out the side in the ninth for his 12th save. Soria has 11 scoreless innings in his last nine appearances. He is five-for-five in save opportunities in that span.
"It's nice, first, to have a win," Soria said. "We needed this win. We've had a bad streak. But my confidence is back. I feel my pitches are working right now — all of them."
The Royals scored twice in the fifth against Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano on RBI singles by Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Hosmer's single came after getting just one hit in 20 previous at-bats.
"That felt good," Hosmer admitted. "I needed that."
Zambrano also departed after allowing two runs in seven innings. John Grabow started the eighth, and retired Alex Gordon, but exited when the Royals sent Jeff Francoeur up as a pinch-hitter for Mitch Maier.
In came Samardzija, who walked Francoeur on a full count.
"He put together a good at-bat right there," Samardzija said. "I thought we threw him two good sinkers in on the hands and had him set up for the slider away, but 3-2 it's got to be on the plate. You've got to make him swing it or fool him."
After Francoeur stole second, Samardzija walked Mike Moustakas, which prompted the Royals to use Wilson Betemit as a pinch-hitter for Matt Treanor. Soto's passed ball moved the runners to second and third and prompted the Cubs to shorten their infield.
But Betemit struck out, on a full-count offering that swung out of the strike zone.
That got the game to Getz and provided an opportunity, 24 hours later, for redemption.
"(Samardzija) put his hand up there and deflected it to Castro, who is real athletic," Getz said. "He made it pretty close.... That was a 'yes' moment at first. There's no denying the emotion there."