Cards roll in opener
Kansas City, Mo. ? Facing Scott Rolen with the bases loaded in the third inning, Zack Greinke was determined not to let a grand slam go sailing over the wall.
And he didn’t. Instead, the rookie right-hander gave up a three-run double that sent the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-2 victory Friday night over the Kansas City Royals in the first game of the so-called I-70 Series.
“I didn’t want to throw a pitch he could hit hard,” Greinke said. “But I left one over the plate and he hit it.”
Rolen also hit a solo home run to raise his major-league-leading RBI total to 75 and give him his fifth four-RBI game of the season.
He went 3-for-4 with a single and raised his average to .341.
“In that situation, the pitcher’s at kind of a disadvantage,” Rolen said. “There’s no place he can put you. He’s going to have to throw a strike sooner or later. Be patient and get a good pitch to hit.”
Matt Morris (8-6) pitched eight strong innings for the win. But he has allowed the most homers in the NL, and he gave up a two-run shot to Mike Sweeney in the eighth.
“He put a good swing on a bad pitch,” said Morris, who has given up 24 homers. “I was really hoping to get through a game without one.”
In their first game since trading standout center fielder Carlos Beltran to Houston, the Royals started rookies at catcher, pitcher and center field.
Yadier Molina also had three hits for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 11 and own a major-league-best 24-12 road record.
Morris gave up six hits and two runs, walking two and striking out eight. Jason Isringhausen worked a hitless ninth for his 16th save in 20 chances.
The 20-year-old Greinke (1-4), the youngest player in the majors, allowed six hits and four runs in five innings.
“Greinke did not have his best stuff, I’m afraid,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “He was not as sharp as he usually is.”
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the third on Molina’s single and walks to Tony Womack and Albert Pujols.
With two outs and the runners going on a 3-2 pitch, Rolen lashed the ball down the left-field line, just barely fair for his second bases-loaded double in six days.
Rolen led off the eighth against Nate Field with his 18th home run. John Mabry led off the fourth with his fourth.
With John Buck making his major-league debut at catcher for Kansas City, he, Greinke and center fielder David DeJesus had appeared in a total of 22 major-league games.
Notes: DeJesus, who was 1-for-23 in 11 games with the Royals in April, singled twice and finished 2-for-4. Buck was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. … Greinke has opened all seven of his starts with first-pitch strikes. … The Cardinals are 15-13 all-time in their interleague series with the Royals. … The game drew 40,628. … Morris got his 800th career strikeout when he fanned Joe Randa in the fifth.