KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yadier Molina, Jedd Gyorko and Randal Grichuk went deep, the Cardinals scored so much in the fifth inning that they broke the scoreboard, and St. Louis rolled to a 10-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Michael Wacha (9-4) allowed a three-run double to Cheslor Cuthbert but otherwise kept the Royals in check, surrendering six hits over six innings to win for the sixth time in seven decisions.
Molina homered off Jason Vargas (13-6) in the fourth and Grichuk and Gyorko connected to highlight the six-run fifth, when the crown-shaped video board at Kauffman Stadium suddenly went dark.
About half of it came back online in the seventh, when the Cardinals were tacking on runs.
The Cardinals have won four straight overall, scoring 38 runs over that stretch, and have taken the first two meetings in their four-game, two-city cross-state series.
Cuthbert’s knock down the left-field line staked Vargas to a 3-1 lead in the fourth, but the left-hander responded with the kind of outing that’s become common since his All-Star appearance last month.
Grichuk homered to begin the fifth for St. Louis, and Vargas hit Matt Carpenter before allowing a single to Tommy Pham. Vargas also threw a pair of wild pitches to put runners on second and third, then he walked Jose Martinez before giving up Molina’s go-ahead single.
Dexter Fowler doubled to right to chase Vargas from the game, but reliever Mike Minor was unable to stop the cascade of runs. Gyorko pounded his 2-2 pitch an estimated 420 feet over the left-field bullpen to give the Cardinals a 7-3 lead and close the book on Vargas’s latest miserable outing.
He was 12-3 with a 2.22 ERA at the end of June. He’s 1-4 with a 7.62 ERA in six starts since.
Vargas’s downturn has coincided with a slump by the Royals, who made a series of trades in late July with an eye on contending for the AL Central. Instead, they’ve dropped seven of the last nine to fall off the division-leading Cleveland Indians’ pace.
Three-time All-Star Alex Gordon was benched and LF Melky Cabrera started in his place as the Royals tried to find more offense. Gordon has struggled mightily in the second year of a $72 million, four-year contract, hitting just 197 with five homers and 34 RBIs in 100 games.
The Royals reinstated Cuthbert (sprained left wrist) from the DL and optioned INF Ramon Torres to Triple-A Omaha. Cuthbert started at third base while All-Star Mike Moustakas was the DH, allowing him to rest a sore knee without taking his bat out of the lineup.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spent pregame praising Pham, who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus in 2008. Pham underwent a breakthrough surgery that halted the erosion and has cycled through a variety of contact lenses looking for the right fit.
“We’ve seen flashes of brilliance over the last couple of seasons from Tommy. This is the season he’s been able to maintain,” Matheny said. “I think that has a lot to do with the physical issue.”
The Cardinals send RHP Mike Leake to the mound and the Royals counter with RHP Trevor Cahill when the series shifts to St. Louis on Wednesday night. Cahill has struggled in his first two starts for the Royals since arriving in a trade with the San Diego Padres last month.