Pirates snap Royals' five-game winning streak
PITTSBURGH — Jakob Junis had another strong outing for the Kansas City Royals.
But he had little run support.
Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo delivered the go-ahead bloop single in the seventh inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Kansas City 2-1 on Tuesday night to end the Royals' five-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh (12-11) has won three straight games and 11 of 16 since a 1-6 start, moving back above .500 for the first time since it was 1-0 in the opening week.
"We have to figure out ways to create run-scoring opportunities and we did a nice job of executing," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. "Sometimes you don't have to hit the ball hard to score some runs."
Junis (1-1) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and one walk.
"Really well-pitched game by Jake," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "Just a shame he couldn't get the win. We just really couldn't get anything going offensively."
Tyler Anderson allowed one run and three hits in six innings while striking out five and walking two.
Kansas City (14-8) has lost seven straight games in Pittsburgh since 2009. The Royals arrived from Detroit following their first four-game road series sweep since 1999.
Jacob Stallings singled off Junis leading off the seventh and took third on Kevin Newman's one-out single with a hit-and-run on.
Difo, a switch-hitter, batted for pitcher Duane Underwood Jr., and right-hander Scott Barlow relieved. Difo looped a single that dropped in front of a sliding Michael A. Taylor in center, just 227 feet from home plate.
"My mindset going up to the box was to put the ball in play," Difo said. "I knew they wouldn't get a double play on me because I run fast. I went up there aggressive and was able to square the ball up well enough to get it in play."
Duane Underwood (1-0) won in his second big league decision, his first since last Aug. 17 for the Chicago Cubs against St. Louis. Underwood, Sam Howard and Richard Rodríguez combined for three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Rodríguez retired the side in order on nine pitches for his fourth save in as many opportunities.
"Richie, he's just got a real slow heartbeat, and games are won with slow heart rates," Anderson said.
Colin Moran had an RBI single in the first inning, the start of a three-hit game.
Carlos Santana had two of the Royals' four hits, and neither left the infield. His single scored Nicky Lopez to tie it 1-1 in the third.
Royals: INF Ryan McBroom was recalled from the alternate training site to provide an extra bat for the bench with the designated hitter rule not in effect in an NL ballpark. RHP Jake Newberry was optioned to the alternate site. ... RHP Mike Shawayrn, who pitched in 14 games for Boston in 2019, was signed to a minor league contract.
Pirates: OF Ka'ai Tom joined the team. He was claimed from Oakland on waivers last week. After being picked from Cleveland in the winter meeting draft of unprotected players, Tom made his major league debut with the Athletics on April 1 and went 1 for 16 (.063) in nine games. INF Rodolfo Castro was optioned to the alternate site.
Royals: C Salvador Pérez was in the lineup a day after being taken out of the game after the top of the sixth inning with a strained right thumb. He was injured while tagging Detroit's Miguel Cabrera out on a play at home plate in the third inning.
Royals LHP Mike Minor (2-1, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against RHP Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.16) on Wednesday night in the finale of the two-game series. Minor is coming off his best start of the season in which he gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings to beat the Tigers while striking out nine. Keller had a no-decision against Detroit in his last outing, allowing two runs -– both on solo homers –- in five innings.