Greinke, Gordon lift Royals to win
Righty tosses five shutout innings; third baseman drives in four
ARLINGTON -- Manager Buddy Bell believed the Royals played one of their better games of the season Monday night. They collected 16 hits, drew a season-high nine walks and enjoyed solid bullpen work.
And they had another outstanding performance from Zack Greinke.
"The kid keeps throwing good," Bell said with a smile.
He certainly is. Grienke fashioned his third straight shutout outing and earned his first win as a starter since April 10 in an 8-1 victory over the Rangers.
This time, Greinke improved on his first two outings of three and four innings and went five. Held on an 80-pitch limit, Greinke covered 15 outs with 82 pitches (55 strikes)
Consistently showing ace-like stuff, including a 94-97 mph fastball, he struck out four and allowed five hits and no walks.
"I was kind of tired the last two innings, but I still had another one or two pushes if I got in trouble, like if there was someone in scoring position," he said.
He received plenty of offensive help. Kameron Loe, the Rangers' starter, allowed four walks and worked just three innings before he left with elbow soreness. By night's end, every Royals starter except Tony Pena enjoyed at least one hit.
Billy Butler had two hits and Alex Gordon, Ross Gload and Mark Teahen -- in his first game off the disabled list -- all collected three. Since the Twins' Scott Baker nearly tossed a perfect game Friday night, KC has scored 20 runs in three games.
"It was just a good night for us all the way around," Butler said. "We needed to be patient, and we did, and we put a lot of guys out there for opportunities."
Gordon tied a season-high with four RBI and Gload, batting .392 in his last 16 games, homered and drove in two runs.
"[Gload] has been our best player for awhile now," Bell said. "He gets a hit when we need it and makes a big play when we need it. He has been a great addition. He just knows how to play and just kind of grinds his way through it. You can't keep him out of the lineup. You have to find a place for him to play just about every night."
Greinke provided the foundation for the offensive attack. The five innings were the longest he has gone since May 1, and upped his totals since rejoining the rotation to 12 shutout innings, 11 hits allowed, and an 11:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
"Maybe we should have done this sooner," Bell said with a laugh.
After he posted a 5.71 ERA in his first stint as a starter, Greinke's run has lowered his ERA as a starter to 4.24, above average in the American League.
"Zack, it's night-and-day from early on," Gload said. "The stuff was there early on, but he just looks like he is confident, which I would be confident if I threw 98. He is making Major League hitters look bad. If he is confident and can throw his pitches in the zone, he has a long time ahead of him."
Just as important, Greinke's success is a key piece of the Royals' future. If he continues to pitch well in the rotation, he forms a solid trio with ace Gil Meche (3.85 ERA) and budding American League Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Bannister (3.16).
"Those are three guys right there that you can go out and fight every day and feel good about it," Billy Butler said. "It's always good to have that in the rotation."
"We still have a ways to go, but pitching is the main thing," Bell added.
Greinke, who won't consider himself a member of the rotation until he works deeper into a game, maintained his stuff through all five innings. A fastball-slider pitcher in the bullpen, Greinke also dusted off an effective changeup. He was in only one jam all night, but coaxed a popup from All-Star Michael Young to end a third-inning threat.
"I guess it has taken a little while for it to come back," Greinke said. "Even the first couple of innings, the changeup wasn't that good, but it got better as the game went along."
The offense took care of the rest. They scored two in the first off four walks and a two-run single from Gordon. KC tacked on two more in the fourth on a run-scoring single from Gload and an RBI groundout from Butler.
They tallied three more in the eighth. Gload's homer -- a lined shot that barely cleared the yellow line in right field -- started the rally. Gordon, with a .353 average and 12 RBIs in his eight games, added insurance with another two-run single.
"We just had pressure on them all night long," Bell said. "Their bullpen has been pretty good pretty much the whole year, so it was nice to add on and give us a little bit of a cushion and separation."
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.