Lynch shuts down Astros for 7 innings as Royals win 3-1

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Royals rookie Daniel Lynch doesn’t worry too much about the lineup he’s facing, even pointing out how the Triple-A team for Detroit once battered him for eight runs.

Well, he made the AL West-leading Houston Astros look like a bunch of minor leaguers Tuesday night.

Lynch allowed one run over seven crisp innings against a club leading the majors in runs, hits, batting average and just about every other important offensive stat. And when he turned over the lead to his bullpen, they made it stand up in a 3-1 victory — the Royals' second straight comeback win over Houston.

“I try not to think about it because I don't know how much it's going to help me,” Lynch said. “It's obviously well-known if you're facing good hitters, but I'm a firm believer if you leave stuff in the middle and don't do what you need to do, they're going to get you. It doesn't really matter who it is.”

Lynch (3-3) gave up a two-out RBI single to Carlos Correa in the third inning, but Martin Maldonado was thrown out at the plate on the play and Lynch bounced back to retire the side in the fourth. He cruised through the next three innings and allowed four hits and three walks in all while striking out five.

Josh Staumont took over and pitched a perfect eighth, and Jake Brentz walked a pair in the ninth before the hard-throwing reliever struck out Chas McCormick and earned his second career save.

Framber Valdez (8-4) lasted 6 2/3 innings for Houston, permitting three runs on nine hits and a walk.

“We've talked about a lot of these guys checking boxes and I think part of it's playing against some of these teams that are held in high respect,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It's easy to say in theory, it's harder to say in application. Young players tend to give the opposition too much credit, especially guys who have had success.”

Unlike the back-and-forth scoring binge of the series opener, when the Royals held on after Salvador Perez's go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth inning, the matchup Tuesday night was headed for an old-school pitchers' duel.

Valdez, who'd cruised to wins in three of his last four starts, allowed a runner each of the first six innings but kept wiggling out of trouble. Michael A. Taylor's two-out RBI double in the fourth was the only real damage through the first five innings.

Lynch was even better for Kansas City.

The young left-hander's only trouble came when Correa's two-out single in the third brought home Jake Meyers. Otherwise, Lynch set down the Astros in order in the first, fourth and sixth in an impressive display of command.

Valdez finally cracked in the sixth. He gave up a single to Andrew Benintendi and then hit Hunter Dozier with a pitch, and both advanced on Taylor's groundout. Alberto followed with his two-run double to give Kansas City the lead for good.

“I mean, a lot of teams you should beat but you don't beat them on that night when things are going their way,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Framber threw the ball well. Just a lot of stuff didn't go our way: balls bounced off the plate, we didn't cover bags, we had a runner thrown out at the plate. Things just didn't happen for us.”

IRON MAN

Perez made his 1,000th appearance behind the plate for Kansas City, joining Yadier Molina, Kurt Suzuki, Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy as the only active catchers in the club. Perez also started his 980th game at catcher, even though he missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery and last season was shortened due to COVID-19.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: Benintendi was checked by trainer Nick Kenney in the fourth inning after fouling a pitch off the plate. It appeared as if it ricocheted off his forehead but narrowly missed his face, merely knocking off his helmet.

Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez did not start after he was removed from the series opener with a stomach bug, though Baker said Alvarez might have been available off the bench. ... RHP Andre Scrubb (shoulder strain) threw 20 fastballs as he took another step in his rehab. Scrubb has been out since July 19.

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Zack Greinke (11-3, 3.51 ERA) makes another start against the club that drafted him nearly two decades ago when the teams continue their series Wednesday night. The Royals send RHP Brady Singer (3-8, 5.42) to the mound.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports