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Royals win Battle of Lopezes, 3-0

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

On the back of an excellent start from Jorge Lopez, the Royals shutout Miami in game one of a three-game set, 3-0.

Carrying a 6.61 ERA into the night, the 26-year-old Lopez would make his 14th start on the 2019 campaign. Facing a Miami team who had won just three of its previous 10 games, Kansas City would strike first in the top of the third with two outs. After Meibrys Viloria led off the frame with a single and moved to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Lopez, Whit Merrifield notched his league-leading 183rd hit to drive in the games’ first run. Holding the slim 1-0 advantage, the Royals right-hander continued to cruise on the bump.

In the bottom of the fifth, a strong defensive play kept the Marlins scoreless and the Kansas City lead intact. Unable to put Miami pitcher Pablo Lopez away on strikes, the Marlins starter ripped a ball off the wall in left-center with a runner at first. Relaying it from Brett Phillips to Whit Merrifield and finally to Viloria at home plate, the Royals cut down Bryan Holaday trying to score.

Able to stifle the Marlins’ offense over the course of six innings, Lopez collected a quality start with five strikeouts and no walks, yielding no runs on four hits. The outing dropped his earned run average to 6.23 and bumped his record to 3-7 on the season.

Following his exit, Kansas City tacked on some insurance in the top half of the seventh. After Alex Gordon opened the frame with an infield single against the shift, O’Hearn blasted his second hit of the night to the opposite field and off the wall in left. Getting a favorable bounce, Gordon managed to scamper home to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. However, with O’Hearn at third base and less than two outs, both Phillips and Merrifield left him stranded.

In the ensuing inning, Hunter Dozier created noise with the bases empty. On an outside fastball, the third baseman crushed it towards the gap in right-center. Barely landing over the wall, Kansas City added once more to the lead to make it 3-0. Scott Barlow worked through adversity in the eighth, but came away unharmed.

In the ninth, Ian Kennedy took the ball for his 27th save of the season. Allowing one hit in the inning, Kennedy slammed the door for the shutout and the win. Tomorrow, the Royals will send Danny Duffy to the mound for his second start since coming off the injured list. Caleb Smith will go for Miami. First pitch is set for 5:10 PM CT.