The 26-year-old right-hander allowed two hits over eight innings, and the Royals got some timely hitting from Tony Pena, Esteban German and Emil Brown to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-1 on Friday night.
“He did what we needed, desperately. He threw strikes, and really wasn’t in trouble the whole game,” Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said of Bannister (1-3), who won for the first time since the Royals obtained him in an offseason trade.
The son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister allowed a fourth-inning single to Akinori Iwamura and Greg Norton’s leadoff homer in the fifth before retiring the last 12 batters he faced to get his third career win.
The Royals, outscored 54-13 during their losing streak, converted a leadoff triple, a wild pitch and three singles into three runs in the second.
“We got those runs early and I was just trying to keep us in the game for as long as I could,” Bannister said.
“We were really just sticking with my fastball. I gave up the home run on a changeup, and I only threw three of them tonight.”
Scott Kazmir (3-3) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings, and has not won at home since pitching a two-hit shutout against Boston last July 3.
The left-hander settled after the second to keep the Devil Rays close, however he wasn’t as sharp as he was in an 11-5 victory at Chicago last weekend.
“We really just didn’t come out to play,” Kazmir said. “Not to take anything away from Bannister. He pitched great, but we’re better than that. I think tomorrow we need to come out and really show it.”
Bannister, who was 2-1 with the New York Mets last season, struck out a career-high six and walked none in the longest outing of his career. Octavio Dotel walked the first two batters in the ninth, then retired the next three for his first save in two years.
“I was telling the guys earlier, `I’m back!”’ said Dotel, who sat out most of the past two seasons with Oakland and the New York Yankees because of injuries. “I finally got my first save, and it’s really something that makes me happy.”
Kazmir walked one and struck out seven. But high pitch counts have been a problem all season, and the left-hander labored through a 33-pitch inning in giving up three runs in the second.
A wild pitch allowed Mike Sweeney to score after the Royals’ designated hitter stopped an 0-for-15 slide with a triple, then Pena and German delivered RBI singles to build Kansas City’s lead to 3-0.
“He had the one bad inning, then turned it around,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Kazmir.
“The pitch count got up there. Feels like it’s been like that all season,” Kazmir added. “It’s very frustrating.”
Dotel earned his first save since May 16, 2005, when he was with the Athletics. … The Royals snapped a seven-game losing streak at Tropicana Field. … Devil Rays LHP Casey Fossum was moved to the bullpen, creating a second opening in the starting rotation. RHP Jae Seo lost his spot last week and was designated for assignment after Friday night’s game. The club promoted LHP J.P. Howell and RHP Andy Sonnanstine from Triple-A Durham to fill the openings. Meanwhile, reliever Jae Kuk Ryu was optioned to Durham to be a starter. … Sweeney’s triple was his first in four seasons and fifth in 1,254 career games. … Bannister’s previous career high for strikeouts was four, which he did six times.