Greinke first in Majors to win five games
Butler homers twice as Royals back righty in big way
KANSAS CITY -- Zack Greinke wasn't quite perfect but plenty good enough.
Greinke actually gave up two earned runs but still upgraded his record to 5-0 -- becoming the first pitcher in the Majors to five wins -- as he pitched the Royals to an 11-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. His ERA went from 0.00 to 0.50.
His string of 43 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run ended in the first inning.
"I really couldn't have done much more," he said. "Just a good job by them."
Billy Butler, snapping a 1-for-10 slide, pounded two home runs and a double for four RBIs. He had four hits and scored four runs to lead the Royals' assault.
He had plenty of company. Mark Teahen crashed a two-run homer, his third. Mike Aviles lined a two-run triple and doubled. Coco Crisp and Alberto Callaspo each had two doubles. Mike Jacobs and Willie Bloomquist each had two hits.
Butler also singled so when he came to the plate in the eighth inning, he had a shot at the Royals' first cycle since George Brett on July 25, 1990, at Toronto.
"Just an elusive triple away from the cycle," manager Trey Hillman said. "We were all hoping for a ball off the wall, ricocheting into center field or something."
Instead, as the 10,619 fans chanted "Triple! Triple!" on the rainy night, Butler flied out to right field.
"That might be something that's one in a million for me," Butler said. "But if I had the opportunity, I was going to go for it. I don't get many triples. I'm not the fleetest of foot but I run hard."
By overwhelming Toronto, the Royals got into a three-way tie for first place in the American League Central with Detroit and Chicago. Meantime, the Blue Jays were in a virtual first-place tie with Boston in the AL East.
So the two division front-runners will square off on Thursday in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium.
"When I signed the contract to stay here," Greinke said, "I was about positive that we could do what we're doing now. If you ask any one of the guys on the team, we're not even playing our best baseball. We could be doing better than we're doing. I guess we're in first place, which is good, but it's even better that we're there and haven't even started to click yet."
But Greinke is certainly clicking. He became the first Royals pitcher to win five games in the season's first month.
Although he really didn't like to talk about it, through 29 innings this season and 43 innings dating to last year, Greinke had not surrendered an earned run and only one that was unearned. That's what he carried into this game.
The Blue Jays immediately threatened that as Marco Scutaro opened the game with a double to left-center field.
Greinke seemed about to escape when he struck out both Aaron Hill and Alex Rios and got two strikes on Vernon Wells. But Wells slapped a 2-2 pitch past Greinke that rolled into center field, scoring Scutaro.
"Usually with two outs with anyone on base, I feel like I could finish it, and I threw some pitches right where I wanted to," Greinke said.
"Vernon Wells is a guy I consider would chase a good slider, but he did a great job of guessing. He said, 'I'm just going to let any fastball go by me and I'm just sitting straight slider,' and he won the game that at-bat."
The unearned run that marred Greinke's streak had come in his previous start against Detroit. That one bothered him more because, after shortstop Aviles' errant throw, Greinke recovered the ball and made a strong peg to the plate and came close to getting the runner.
"That one was like, 'Dang, that's too bad,'" Greinke said. "Today wasn't as much, probably."
The Blue Jays' second run came in the third inning after Scutaro walked, advanced on Hill's single and crossed the plate as Rios rapped into a double play.
In seven innings, Greinke gave up two runs on five hits and had eight strikeouts with two walks.
"He was very effective with the command of his fastball, and when he was missing, I guess he was just missing by a little bit," Hillman said. "But he showed them the slower curveball just enough to let 'em know he had it in there, and then the nasty slider."
Greinke threw 111 pitches, yielding to Jamey Wright, who gave up an unearned run in the eighth. Juan Cruz finished with a scoreless ninth despite allowing two hits.
Finally, Greinke had been touched for a couple of earned runs. That had not happened since back on Sept. 13, 2008, at Cleveland.
"He's human, I guess," Bloomquist said. "We better check his pulse and make sure he's OK."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.