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STL@KC: Perez's two-run shot cuts into Cards' lead

KANSAS CITY -- It was a night for rousing returns. Carlos Beltran and Salvador Perez came back and were just as good as Royals fans remembered them.

Trouble was, Beltran is now playing for the Cardinals and he led the way to St. Louis' 11-4 victory as the second half of this year's I-70 Series began on Friday night with 37,902 folks of divided loyalty packing the sold-out stands.

Beltran, at Kauffman Stadium for first time since the Royals traded him in 2004, knocked in four runs with two doubles.

"They got to see the young Beltran and the old Beltran, so I guess it's good," he said with a smile.

Perez, out since knee surgery in Spring Training, had a two-run homer among his two hits in his first game back with Kansas City.

"I feel great to be back with my brothers," Perez said. "I feel like it's a family in the clubhouse, all my friends here, and I feel great for that."

It didn't take Beltran, the Cardinals' designated hitter, long to make his presence felt.

In the first inning, Beltran came up after the Cards loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and Matt Holliday's single. As his name was announced, Beltran was greeted with cheers overwhelming any jeers.

"Everything was good. I'm used to boos, I'm used to everything these days but here it was nice. The fans were nice and I appreciate that," Beltran said.

Then he sent right-hander Vin Mazzaro's first pitch sailing toward left field.

"I hit it good, not good enough to leave the ballpark, but good enough -- hoping it was going to go over [left fielder Alex Gordon's] head," Beltran said.

It did. The ball, aided by a prevailing wind, kept drifting and sent Gordon chasing it to the bullpen fence. Squinting into the sun and shadows, he missed a catch and two of the on-pause runners revved up and scored.

"It's a ball I should catch, but I didn't," Gordon said.

It was a two-run double in what became a four-run inning.

But Beltran wasn't through. In the second inning, Beltran came up with runners at the corners after Rafael Furcal and Jon Jay each singled. This time, Beltran belted a drive into the right-center gap, knocking Mazzaro out of the game.

It was a two-run double in what became a six-run inning.

That's right, after only two innings the Cardinals held a formidable 10-1 lead. Ramon Colon, who relieved Mazzaro, gave up four hits -- including two-run doubles by David Freese and Tyler Greene -- after the starter's departure. Yep, the Cards had this two-run doubles thing down pat.

"It was good to be back, but it was better than we were able to put a couple of good innings together and score runs," Beltran said. "As a team we haven't been able to do that lately so it was good to see that."

This was the same Mazzaro who, in his previous start at St. Louis, shut out the Cardinals for six innings in a 3-2 victory. This time he gave up seven runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

"It's crazy, but things didn't go my way," Mazzaro said. "Never gave myself a chance to get in the groove. I wasn't down in the zone. That's just going to happen. You're going to get hit if you're up in the zone like that."

With Mazzaro out of the game, Beltran's fortunes turned. He flied out and hit into two double plays in his last three at-bats but, by then, the Cardinals had the game well in hand.

Perez, catching in KC for the first time since his remarkable rookie season of 2011, singled in his first at-bat against Cardinals starter Joe Kelly to lead off the second inning.

When Perez came up for the second time, after Mike Moustakas had been hit by a pitch to open the fourth, he hammered a 3-1 Kelly pitch into the left-field bullpen -- a two-run homer.

Meantime, the young catcher was guiding Colon through a take-one-for-the-team outing.

"He's pretty impressive," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher. "He had a pretty good day at the plate, but just watching him receive the ball, his movements behind the plate, blocking the ball. ... It looks like he's got a good defensive mind out there."

In a lopsided game, Colon made it through 4 1/3 innings to preserve the Royals' bullpen staff for the next two games of the series.

"We sent Colon out there, and it was like, 'Here you go. You're going to get 60 pitches, and hopefully you don't get killed,'" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And he did a good job, got to almost 70 pitches and got us into the sixth inning."

Through it all, Perez was back filling his spot with the Royals and Beltran was back doing what he used to do for the Royals.

"This place brings back a lot of good memories for me," Beltran said.

And he's still making them.

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