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Vargas, Royals top Rays in injury-marred game

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Manager Ned Yost described left-hander Jason Vargas' home debut in a Kansas City Royals uniform with one word: "Wow."

Vargas allowed one run on four hits in eight-plus innings Monday, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Each team sustained a potentially troubling injury in the game. Rays left-hander Matt Moore exited in the fifth inning with soreness in his left elbow. Two innings later, Royals second baseman Omar Infante was hit in the jaw by a pitch, but he was able to walk off the field.

The status of Moore and Infante was uncertain late Monday night.

Vargas lost his shutout bid in the ninth inning, when second baseman Ben Zobrist led off with a home run.

"It was right over the middle of the plate, and that's all she wrote," Vargas said of the pitch Zobrist hit. "It was a good night. We were able to execute early, make pitches down in the zone. When we do that, we can be effective.

"The defense made some great plays tonight, huge plays. It could have been a lot different game. If (center fielder Lorenzo) Cain doesn't catch some of those balls that carried out there, it changes the complexity of the game."

Closer Greg Holland replaced Vargas after the homer and yielded another run finishing off his third save.

"I can get used to that," Holland said of Vargas pitching into the ninth. "I think the whole bullpen could. We could get fat down there eating snacks -- or fatter."

"He pitched great, but he also gave our bullpen a much needed break," Yost said. "His ability to command the baseball and change speeds was very evident today. He works in such a professional matter on the mound. He works quick. He's around the strike zone. He can pitch effectively in and away and change speeds. He can really keep a good offense off balance."

Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar drove in three runs, matching his career best, with a bases-clearing double in the sixth.

In the fifth, Moore came out after he hurt his elbow throwing a pitch to right fielder Norichika Aoki.

"It was a changeup," Moore said. "I felt it more then than on the others. When I was pitching to Escobar, that's the first time I felt it. It really came out of nowhere."

Moore said he would have an MRI exam Tuesday.

"It's the same elbow (he hurt last year)," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It has to be checked. There will be tests tomorrow. We don't know what's going on yet. We'll get an update later."

Infante was undergoing concussion tests.

"It's not good to see anybody hit like that," Holland said. "Hopefully he'll be all right. He's a big part of this team with his bat and his glove. We'll be praying for him."

The first inning was all about Aoki. He robbed Zobrist of extra bases to end the Tampa Bay first, making an excellent running catch of a fly to the warning track that appeared to be over his head.

Then Aoki hit an opposite-field triple over the head of left fielder Sean Rodriguez to start the bottom of the first. It was Kansas City's first triple this season. He scored on first baseman Eric Hosmer's single to left.

In the sixth, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon hit a one-out single, knocking out reliever Cesar Ramos. Bell entered and gave up singles to catcher Salvador Perez and Cain. Escobar's double to deep left increased the lead to 4-0.

Pinch hitter Matt Joyce drove in the Rays' final run with a two-out, ninth-inning single off Holland.

NOTES: The Royals made four roster moves prior to the game, putting LHPs Tim Collins (strained left elbow) and Francisley Bueno (bruised and sprained left pinkie) on the 15-day disabled list. They summoned LHP Donnie Joseph, who averaged 13.83 strikeouts per nine innings last season in the Pacific Coast League, and RHP Michael Mariot, who logged a save Sunday against Nashville, from Triple-A Omaha. ... Kansas City RHP Louis Coleman, who is on the disabled list with a bruised and sprained right middle finger, threw a bullpen session Monday. He could be activated Tuesday. ... Rays RHP Chris Archer and Royals RHP Yordano Ventura are the pitching probables for Tuesday.
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