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BAL@KC: Shields pitches seven solid innings

The Royals turn to ace James Shields looking to keep the momentum going against the slumping Cardinals, who have now lost six of eight.

Kansas City had two excellent performances to open its series in Toronto this past weekend, but the Royals looked lifeless in the final two outings (combined 16-2 run differential) before flying to St. Louis and winning the first game of this week's Interstate 70 series on Monday night.

Shields has been almost automatic since a rough couple of weeks to open the season. The Royals have won in eight of Shields' past nine starts -- he is 6-1 in that span -- dating back to April 17 at Houston. Shields has not failed to make it through six innings since a 5 2/3-inning performance at Minnesota on April 12.

His last start went into the books as a win, but he was fixated on the three home runs he surrendered to the Jays.

"I made three bad pitches and they capitalized on it," said Shields, who will make his first career start at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. "Other than that, I thought my stuff was halfway decent. I was pounding the strike zone, and you've just got to tip your hat to those hitters right now."

The Cardinals had been suffering through a recent rough patch. They dropped two of three against the Yankees, and then three of four against the Giants, all at home.

The pressure will be on Jaime Garcia (1-0, 4.12 ERA) -- who missed almost a full year with a shoulder injury and returned to the rotation May 18. His last start was quality (three earned runs in seven innings), but the Cards still lost, 6-5, to the Giants.

"You go out there, try to get ahead and try to keep the ball down," Garcia said. "Unfortunately, today I made some mistakes, and I feel like I didn't do my job. We lost the ballgame."

Manager Mike Matheny was slightly more positive about the performance.

"Overall he did a nice job," Matheny said. "A couple solos are starting to add up on him. For the most part, he's doing a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground and getting quick outs and getting them to swing early in the count."

Royals: It's Hosmer at first
Manager Ned Yost has decided to keep designated hitter Billy Butler on call as a pinch-hitter in the National League ballpark at St. Louis.

Butler has been used at first base in Interleague Play over the years, but he was strictly a pinch-hitter in the Royals' only other 2014 visit to an NL city, San Diego.

So it'll be Eric Hosmer at first base again Tuesday night, even though it will create a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Garcia.

Yost sees Hosmer and Butler as having somewhat similar seasons at the plate, so he's going with the defensive advantage that his Gold Glove first baseman provides.

Cardinals: Matheny likes series setup
After the two teams finish at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, they head to Kansas City for games on Wednesday and Thursday.

Matheny thinks the new schedule wrinkle is good for both teams.

"It's a little different," Matheny said. "This series makes more sense than having a break in between. You know what you're going to get for the whole series. It's a rivalry that we see these guys every year. They've got a good team."

Worth noting
• Royals left-hander Bruce Chen was sent to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on an injury rehabilitation assignment Monday. Chen has been out since April 25 because of a bulging disk in his back.

• The Royals have stolen 20 bases in their last 14 games to take the American League lead with 48, overtaking the Astros (43). The Royals led the Majors last year with 153 thefts.

• Matt Carpenter's 14-game hitting streak was snapped Monday night, when he went 0-for-4. He also lost a 28-game streak of reaching base at Busch Stadium. Comments