Yankees struggle at plate in 5-1 loss to Royals

Derek Jeter committed an error the first time a ball was put in play Saturday night.

Things didn't get a whole lot better after that for the captain. Or the rest of the Yankees.

Felipe Paulino came off the disabled list to toss six shutout innings, Billy Butler drove in three runs and the Kansas City Royals beat New York 5-1.

Jeter finished 0 for 4 and left four runners on base. Mark Teixeira also went 0 for 4, while Robinson Cano managed a lonely single with the bases empty in the sixth.

"You are going to go through periods," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The key to keeping your offense consistent for me is not having a bunch of guys struggle at once. Maybe having one or two and having the other guys picking you up. That hasn't necessarily been true."

Russell Martin's long homer off Jose Mijares in the seventh was New York's only run.

The Yankees have struggled to score for a while. They managed six runs Friday night, but that only matched their total from the previous four games combined. And the bats went dry again against Paulino (1-0), who was making his first start of the season.

The right-hander didn't allow a ball out of the infield until Raul Ibanez singled with one out in the fifth. Paulino wound up allowing four hits and a pair of walks.

"We're getting back to playing our style of baseball now," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We had that little rough patch and we're starting to swing the bats a little better now."

Butler doubled in the first and again in the fifth, each time driving in Alex Gordon, who matched a career high with four hits. Gordon also drove in a run with a double in the sixth.

Hiroki Kuroda (2-4) allowed two runs in the first inning, one earned, which kept up a strange trend. Nine of the 18 runs he's given up this season have come in the first.

"I try not to think about it too much, about the first inning," Kuroda said through a translator. "Even if I give up runs in the first inning, I can still keep the game close and have our team get a chance to win the game. My goal is to keep the game close."

The Royals capitalized when Jeter misplayed a grounder by Jarrod Dyson to lead off the game. Gordon followed with a clean single to right field and Butler delivered a scorching RBI double down the third-base line to bring home both runs.

Kansas City added another in the fifth when Gordon singled for the third straight at-bat. He was running when Butler doubled into the right-field gap, allowing him to score from first.

The Royals built a cushion for their up-and-down bullpen in the sixth.

Light-hitting Chris Getz drew a leadoff walk and Alcides Escobar followed with a base hit, putting runners on the corners. Dyson's shallow fly to left field was enough to score Getz, and Gordon's double moments later gave Kansas City a 5-0 lead.

The way Paulino was pitching, that was more than enough.

After starting the season on the DL with a strained right forearm, Paulino came out flashing a 96 mph fastball that befuddled the Yankees. He didn't allow a baserunner until Alex Rodriguez walked with two outs in the fourth, and Paulino didn't allow a hit until the fifth.

After working out of that trouble, he got some help from Jeff Francoeur in the sixth.

Curtis Granderson doubled to lead off the inning, but he should have known better than to run on the Royals' right fielder. Francoeur settled under a fly ball by A-Rod and then made a pinpoint throw to punch out Granderson tagging up for third base.

It was Francoeur's American League-leading fifth outfield assist and the 102nd of his career. He followed up by making a sliding grab on a fly ball by Teixeira to end the inning.

"I got a text from a friend of mine after the game that says Jeff has thrown out more people than a Bourbon Street bouncer," Yost said, "which is kind of true."

NOTES: Martin finished 3 for 4. ... Yankees OF Nick Swisher (hamstring) took batting practice and ran the bases before the game. Girardi said Swisher could play Sunday. ... Royals RHP Greg Holland (ribcage) felt good after a 25-pitch bullpen session. He's expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. ... RHP Phil Hughes will pitch the series finale Sunday for New York. RHP Luke Hochevar gets the nod for the Royals.