Vargas deals, Merrifield wheels and Royals capture series vs. Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Major league ERA leader Jason Vargas went seven more scoreless innings, Salvador Perez had a two-run double during a five-run eighth inning and the Kansas City Royals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 on Thursday.

Vargas (5-1) scattered three hits and dropped his ERA from 1.19 to 1.01.

Jorge Bonifacio hit an RBI single off Diego Moreno in the decisive eighth before Whit Merrifield had a run-scoring single and then circled the bases when center fielder Kevin Kiermaier misplayed the hit for a three-base error -- his third error of the series.

Merrifield also homered for the Royals, who won three of four against the Rays. Kansas City had lost 13 of 16 entering the series.

Jake Odorizzi (2-2) gave up one run and four hits in six innings for the Rays. He had allowed three hits or fewer in each of his previous four starts.

Tampa Bay went 3-6 during a nine-game homestand against Miami, Toronto and the Royals. All three opponents are well under .500.

Merrifield put the Royals up 1-0 on a solo shot in the fourth.

Vargas made two nifty defensive plays during the fifth. He fielded Kiermaier's slow grounder down the first-base line and tagged out the speedy outfielder and also caught Derek Norris' liner.

Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson took a home run away from Eric Hosmer in the first by reaching over the short wall by the 315-foot mark near the line and catching the drive.

Kansas City center Alex Gordon took an extra-base hit away from Tim Beckham with a diving catch in the sixth. It was Gordon's first start in center this season.

There was no carryover one day after Perez was hit by a Chris Archer pitch in the seventh inning of the Rays' 12-1 win Wednesday night. Perez felt Archer was throwing at him, while Archer said there was no intent.


Royals: CF Lorenzo Cain got a day off after playing three games on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field.

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. (sore right thumb) had a cortisone shot Wednesday and missed his third consecutive game. … RHP Jose De Leon (right flexor mass) is scheduled to join Class A Charlotte.


Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (2-3) and Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman (1-0) are Friday night's starters as Kansas City opens a six-game homestand. Tillman, sidelined since March by right shoulder bursitis, went five scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox in his season debut last Sunday.