Royals romp behind Vargas' strong start

Royals romp behind Vargas' strong start

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Royals used a six-run sixth-inning rally to support Jason Vargas, who won his fourth straight start in Tuesday's 8-1 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.

The veteran southpaw made quick work of the San Francisco lineup, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. Vargas (9-3) maintained his hold on MLB's second-lowest ERA (2.10) while joining Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw as the Majors' lone nine-game winners.

"Vintage Vargy," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "Changed speeds, commanded the zone."

Vargas registers 9th win of 2017

Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Vargy was excellent. He was sharp. On the attack. Kept his pitch count down."

Whit Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio recorded three RBIs apiece for the Royals, who racked up 15 hits and won their third straight contest.

Merrifield's bases-clearing 3B

Giants southpaw Ty Blach was charged with seven runs in his 5 2/3 innings, as he gave up 10 hits and a walk while striking out four. Though the Royals weren't hitting the ball hard consistently against Blach, it marked his second straight start of giving up at least five runs.

"That's just baseball," Blach said. "A couple of bad bounces and then you don't make pitches when you have to, it's going to humble you in a hurry."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
So close, yet so far: Merrifield highlighted Kansas City's six-run barrage in the sixth with a three-run triple down the right-field line. Giants right fielder Hunter Pence made a sliding attempt to catch the high fly ball but it landed just inches away from his glove and bounced to the wall, allowing the bases to clear and Merrifield to reach third. According to Statcast™, Merrifield's triple only had a 4 percent chance of being a hit when it left his bat.

Merrifield on his key triple

"It was one of those that you don't hit very well," Merrifield said, "but you know it's in a good spot. It just started dying. Those are beautiful when they happen. It was in a big moment, too."

Bad bounces: The Giants were stung by some close plays in the third inning that led to a couple of early runs for the Royals. Alcides Escobar led off the frame with a single that bounced past Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, before Alex Gordon reached on a bloop single that nicked off the glove of second baseman Aaron Hill in shallow right. Once Vargas' bunt rolled past Blach to load the bases, Bonifacio laced a two-run single up the middle to make the Giants pay.

"It's a game of inches," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're just not quite getting to some of these balls. I think you've got to attribute bad luck to it for the most part. Some of them, you'd think we're going to come up with a play. Most of it is just bad luck. It's just not quite there. Tonight was one of those."

Bonifacio's two-run single

Added Bonifacio, "I felt pretty good tonight. I was looking fastball there and he hung a slider and I got a good swing on it. I've been in a little slump but felt good tonight."

QUOTABLE
"It's hard to believe he gave up those runs. He had good stuff. They placed the ball just out of reach three or four times there. It's a shame because Ty threw the ball well tonight, he really did. The numbers are not indicative of how he threw." -- Bochy, on Blach

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Vargas became the fourth Royals pitcher since 1974 to record a bunt single, joining Danny Duffy, Ervin Santana and Odalis Perez.

Vargas' bunt single

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (2-6, 5.43 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. CT. Hammel continued his recent surge with a strong outing against Houston on Thursday -- seven innings, four hits, one run, zero walks, four strikeouts.

Giants: Johnny Cueto (5-5 4.33 ERA) will face the Royals on Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. PT for the first time since winning the 2015 World Series with Kansas City. The veteran right-hander has a 3.55 ERA in five starts at AT&T Park this year compared to a 4.88 ERA in eight road outings.

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Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.