Cody Ragans was strong for six innings but it was a Bobby Witt Jr. two-run home run gave the Royals a lead they would not relinquish in a 4-3 win over the Cubs Friday afternoon.
The Royals got on the board in the third inning off Cubs starter Jameson Taillon when Drew Waters led off with a single and stole second, setting up an RBI single for Kyle Isbel. The next inning, Bobby Witt Jr. scored on a sacrifice fly by Salvador Perez to make it 2-0.
Ragans worked out of a first inning jam and coasted through the next two innings. In the fourth he ran into trouble, although his defense did him no favors. Ragans put two runners on with one out when Jeimer Candelario laced a drive just pass Bobby Witt’s glove. After a Patrick Widsom single to load the bases, Christopher Morel hit a routine grounder to third. Matt Duffy, in for an injured Maikel Garcia, stepped on the bag for a force out, but threw wildly to first in an attempt at a double play, allowing a second run in the inning to score. Nico Hoerner singled home another run to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
But the Royals battled back as they have done all month. The red-shot emerging superstar Bobby Witt Jr. smashed a two-run home run in the sixth to give the Royals a 4-3 lead.
Ragans struck out the last three hitters he faced, going six innings with nine strikeouts overall and just two walks, the third time in five starts with the Royals he has gone at least six innings.
The Cubs threatened in the eighth with two runners against Taylor Clarke, but Austin Cox was able to get out of the jam. In the ninth inning, Nico Hoerner laced a drive down the right field line off Carlos Hernandez, but Drew Waters made a terrific play to catch him trying to stretch it to a double. Hernandez struck out Cody Bellinger to end the game.
The Royals improve to 40-84 and will take on the Cubs again tomorrow afternoon at 1:20 with Brady Singer scheduled to face Justin Steele.