Billy Butler drove in Eric Hosmer with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros 4-2 on Friday night for their third straight win.
Kelvin Herrera (3-4) worked a perfect eighth inning in relief of James Shields, and Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his 11th save and second during the Royals' modest winning streak.
Shields engaged in quite the pitchers' duel with the Astros' Jordan Lyles, but the game came down to the bullpens. Houston brought in Wesley Wright (0-2) in the eighth and Hosmer greeted him with a single, and then Butler doubled off Josh Fields for the go-ahead run.
David Lough's RBI double moments later created a cushion for the Royals, who also got a two-run homer from Salvador Perez earlier in the game to help them win three straight for the first time since May 1-5 — a stretch interrupted twice by weather postponements.
Trevor Crowe and Jason Castro drove in the only runs for Houston, which had won six straight on the road, its best run since July 18-22, 2005.
Shields allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in each of the first four innings, and again in the seventh, but for the most part the Royals' ace kept limiting the damage.
He left Brandon Barnes standing on third base in the first inning, and induced double-play grounders off the bat of Marwin Gonzalez to end the second and fourth. Shields finally allowed a run when Crowe followed up another leadoff single by Barnes with a triple in the third.
Even then, Shields escaped more trouble by striking out the next three batters.
Lyles matched the former All-Star pitch for pitch, the young right-hander cruising through the first inning before setting the Royals down in order in the second and third.
Kansas City finally got to him in the fourth when Hosmer ricocheted a single off Lyles and Perez sent a pitch sailing over the bullpen in left field for a two-run homer.
Lyles buckled down, though, and the Astros eventually pulled even.
It happened in the seventh after Gonzalez led off with a single. Shields retired the next two batters before Castro's double to right field knotted the game 2-all.
That left both starting pitchers to watch things play out from the dugout.
Shields allowed nine hits and three walks in seven innings but failed to win for the seventh straight start. He hasn't picked up a win since April 30 against Tampa Bay, even though he's only allowed more than two earned runs once over that span.
Lyles, coming off consecutive wins for the first time in his career, gave up six hits and a walk in his seven innings. He's allowed two earned runs or fewer in five straight outings.
NOTES: Astros 2B Jose Altuve (groin) was held out of the lineup again. "He wants to play," manager Bo Porter said, "but I'm not going to listen to him. I'm going to listen to the experts and they say he could use another day." ... Royals RHP Felipe Paulino (Tommy John surgery) is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday. ... Astros LHP Erik Bedard faces Royals RHP Ervin Santana on Saturday night.