Bannister, Royals beat Yanks

April 8, 2008 5:22:45 PM PDT
Brian Bannister and the Kansas City Royals got the best of Alex Rodriguez.A-Rod struck out four times in a game for only the fourth time in his major league career, and the Royals won their home opener 5-2 over the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

In a matchup of top young pitchers, Bannister (2-0) bested Phil Hughes (0-1) as the Yankees opened a stretch that has them playing 18 of 20 games on the road - returning home only for two meetings with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox on April 16-17.

With captain Derek Jeter sidelined for the three-game series by a strained left quadriceps, the Yankees (4-4) wasted a 2-1 second-inning lead against a team it took nine of 10 from last season. New York struck out 11 times in all, three by Jeter's replacement at shortstop, Wilson Betemit.

Ross Gload drove in two runs for the Royals, who at 5-2 under new manager Trey Hillman are off to their best start since opening 2003 with nine straight wins. The running Royals stole five bases off Jorge Posada - three by Joey Gathright - were caught only once and beat New York for only the fourth time in their last 23 meetings.

Pitching on a cold and overcast afternoon, Bannister (2-0) allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in five innings, striking out six. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his fourth save in four opportunities.

Hughes gave up three runs, six hits and four walks, throwing 87 pitches in just three-plus innings.

Rodriguez, coming off his third AL MVP award, took called third strikes in the second, third and fifth innings, then struck out swinging in the seventh against Ramon Ramirez. The 14-season veteran had not struck out four times in a game since Aug. 25, 2006.

Betemit had an RBI single in the second and Johnny Damon made it 2-1 with a two-out, bases-loaded walk. Bannister then struck out Robinson Cano to end the inning.

John Buck's sacrifice fly tied it in the bottom half, and Mark Grudzielanek's RBI single chased Hughes in the fourth. Gload added a two-run single against Ross Ohlendorf in the fifth.