HOUSTON -- Having acknowledged the mounting frustration of four consecutive one-run defeats, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost was understandably pleased with Tuesday night's reversal of fortune.
Courtesy of a methodical eighth-inning rally that certainly seemed long overdue, the Royals snapped their four-game losing skid with a 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
After Kansas City (21-21) cut its deficit to 3-2 via consecutive RBI singles by Alcides Escobar and David Lough in the seventh inning, the Royals' four-run eighth sealed the win. Third baseman Mike Moustakas snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a game-tying run-scoring single and George Kottaras added a bases-loaded walk to push the Royals ahead.
"It felt good man, 0-for-whatever-it-was, getting a hit in that situation was big for us," Moustakas said. "It was a big at-bat and those are the situations I want to be in all the time. So it felt good that the team had confidence in me. I heard everybody in the dugout getting me going, so it helped out."
Escobar followed with a run-scoring fielder's choice, with Moustakas chasing Eric Hosmer home after Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez uncorked an errant throw trying to complete an unlikely double play.
The Astros (13-33) were undone by a leaky bullpen that surrendered all seven runs after right-hander Bud Norris worked six scoreless innings before leaving with a 3-0 lead at the start of the seventh with tightness in his back. Travis Blackley, Paul Clemens (1-2), Wesley Wright and Jose Cisnero allowed at least a run apiece while scuffling in relief.
"That is one of those things where you feel like you have the right matchups," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "For a long time, Clemens has been great, and Wesley has been really good against lefties. Tonight, we just didn't get it done."
The Royals had dropped four consecutive one-run games but showed signs of offensive recovery while losing the series opener Monday. Bruce Chen (3-0) earned the win in relief of right-hander Wade Davis as the Royals' bullpen allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings.
"I was happy with the entire pitching staff," Yost said. "I thought Wade Davis threw the ball extremely well. (J.C.) Gutierrez came in and did a great job, helped out tremendously by the bunt through and the pickoff (of Jimmy Paredes) at second (in the sixth). (Aaron) Crow came in and did a great job getting the double play and getting us through the eighth, and Holly (Greg Holland) closing it out."
Davis carried the momentum from his previous start, a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on May 15, allowing just three base runners over his first three innings of work before hitting a rough patch in the fourth.
Davis alternated strikeouts and singles until Paredes blasted a 93-mile-per-hour cut fastball into the right-field seats, his first homer since the 2011 season. Paredes reached base in all four of his plate appearances.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon had similar success against Norris, stroking three singles over his first three at-bats. Norris didn't have any trouble with the rest of the Royals' lineup, allowing just one base runner into scoring position before recording his first strikeout to open the sixth. Norris' defense rendered aid, with catcher Jason Castro erasing Gordon as Gordon attempted to swipe second base in the fourth. Norris also started a crucial inning-ending double play to close the fifth inning.
Norris, who departed his previous start in Detroit with back spasms and had his subsequent start bumped back two days, was pulled after tossing several warm-up pitches prior to the seventh inning. He allowed five hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six scoreless innings.
"It's some tightness. It's unfortunate, but I've been dealing with it," Norris said. "But guys have picked me up this year. This bullpen, they don't need to hang their heads at all. They know what they need to do ... they picked me up in Oakland, so I am not worried about them."
NOTES: Escobar was absent from the starting lineup for the first time this season. Escobar and Gordon were the only two Royals to start every game at their respective positions, shortstop and left field. ... Houston Texans rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins tossed a ceremonial first pitch. Hopkins was the Texans' first-round pick (27th overall) in last month's NFL draft. ... Before working six scoreless innings Tuesday night, Norris had a 1.89 ERA over 16 home starts since the start of the 2012 season, the fourth lowest home ERA over that span.