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BAL@KC: Ventura fans nine, holds O's to two runs

The Royals' prized young arm is OK, and Yordano Ventura is raring to help Kansas City secure a series victory in the I-70 rivalry finale Thursday night.

Royals manager Ned Yost skipped the flame-throwing right-hander's last start as a precaution after Ventura was removed in the third inning of his Memorial Day start against the Astros due to elbow concerns. Ultimately, it was a simple case of valgus extension overload, more commonly referred to as "pitcher's elbow" -- something that can affect both position players and pitchers.

Ventura, who has a 3.45 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings, turned 23 on Tuesday. He threw a successful side session Monday and is ready to take the mound opposite Michael Wacha and the Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium.

"I feel good that I'm only going to miss one start. It could've been worse," Ventura said after an MRI came back clean last week. "I'm very thankful to God that everything is working out."

Wacha, meanwhile, has been as dependable as they come. Since making his Major League debut against the Royals on May 30, 2013, when he tossed seven innings of one-run ball, Wacha has only gotten better. The 22-year-old righty has a 2.45 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings and has yet to allow more than three runs in a start this season.

"I just want him to continue to do what he's been doing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think he's been just about as good as anybody."

Last month was particularly kind to Wacha, who posted a 2.43 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in six May starts.

Royals: Confidence on the rise
In 2013, the Royals believed they could overcome almost any lead with a late rally.

"I can feel the confidence building in that direction," manager Ned Yost said after the Royals returned from a 4-2 trip to Toronto and St. Louis. "From this road trip, it's a different kind of confidence now. They all can hit, it's just having some success and some confidence. All it takes is a blooper sometimes that releases the valve."

The Royals had 44 comeback victories last season as they made a late-season bid for a Wild Card spot. This year they have 13 comeback wins.

Cardinals: DH to shuffle lineup's look 

With six games remaining against American League clubs on the current Interleague stretch, Matheny will get a few more chances for creative lineup construction.

Matheny said moving first baseman Allen Craig to designated hitter for a game would be a possibility, but it leaves an obvious void, considering the Cardinals are without a true backup. The most likely solution, then, would be placing Yadier Molina at first for a day and starting Tony Cruz at catcher.

"I think you'll probably see that at some point in the near future," Matheny said.

Matheny also suggested a number of infielders as possible one-game fill-ins, including Mark Ellis, Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter.

Worth noting
• Ventura averages 9.26 strikeouts per nine innings. Should he continue that pace, he could eclipse the full-season mark by a Royals rookie: Bob Johnson's 8.66 in 1970.

• Royals righty Wade Davis' five wins are tied for the most in the Majors by a reliever.

• Kolten Wong hit a grand slam Tuesday night for his first Major League home run, becoming the first Cardinals rookie to hit a grand slam since Bo Hart in 2003. Comments