KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Travis Ishikawa is having a rough season. On this night, he enjoyed one of the best games of his career.
Ishikawa had three extra-base hits and drove in four runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates outslugged the Kansas City Royals 10-7 Monday.
Ishikawa, who was 1 for 13 with one RBI in nine games since the Pirates claimed him on waivers July 5, hit a two-run double in a four-run second that came within inches of going out. He homered in the fifth with Jung Ho Kang aboard. And in the eighth inning, Ishikawa’s double sparked a two-run rally.
“Big night at the plate,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He showed a real good swing to left field Sunday in Milwaukee when he pounded the ball to the wall. He hit another one sharp. Those two balls hit hard in this ballpark to dead left field. And that shot to the gap in right-center in the eighth was a shot in the arm for us.”
Ishikawa was on the disabled list this year with a lower back injury. He played 37 games in the minors, was sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento by the San Francisco Giants and designated for assignment before the Pirates picked him up.
“I don’t have a strategy,” Ishikawa said. “I couldn’t tell you why it worked tonight. I’m just trying to see the ball. Wherever it goes, it goes. I wish I could tell you I was controlling it, but if I could my average would have been a lot higher. You can hit the ball hard and not get rewarded for it. Pitchers can make a pitch and not get rewarded for it. Tonight was just my night when the balls began to fall.”
A.J. Burnett (8-3) won despite giving up a season-high five earned runs and 11 hits — including two homers — in his initial start since his first career trip to the All-Star Game. The 38-year-old right-hander pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second.
“From the get-go, you could tell it was going to be a battle for both sides,” Burnett said. “They came out swinging. We came out swinging. Early runs left and right.”
The Royals cut the deficit to 8-7 in the seventh and chased Burnett. Mike Moustakas homered leading off the inning. Eric Hosmer had an RBI triple for his third hit and scored on Kendrys Morales’ groundout.
Pittsburgh answered with Neil Walker’s two-run triple in the eighth off Luke Hochevar.
Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 30th save in 31 opportunities. He has converted a franchise-record 28 consecutive saves.
Starling Marte also had three hits, one of six Pirates with multihit games.
Morales, who hit a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the fifth, tops the American League with 65 RBIs.
Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura (4-7), the team’s opening-day starter, was pulled in the fifth. He gave up six runs on 11 hits and a walk.
“Nothing is scripted in this game,” Ventura said through a translator. “That’s baseball and that’s the way it is. It’s a new year. Last year is last year, and I’ve just got to work and get better.”
Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer (sprained left knee ligament) went on the disabled list and is expected to miss six weeks. … C Francisco Cervelli left in the seventh with discomfort in his right wrist.
Royals: RHP Kris Medlen, who had his second Tommy John surgery in March 2014, was activated after six rehab starts in the minors. He made his Royals debut, giving up four runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole looks for his major league-leading 14th victory Tuesday night. He is 8-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his past 10 starts.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas will come off the disabled list and make his first start since June 8.