KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Salvador Perez and Franchy Cordero hit two homers and drove in five runs apiece, and the out-of-contention Kansas City Royals proceeded to pummel the playoff-chasing St. Louis Cardinals 12-3 in their series finale Wednesday night.
The Cardinals (27-26) remain 3 1/2 games back of first-place Chicago in the NL Central after the Cubs lost to Pittsburgh earlier in the day, but they had their edge for the No. 2 spot in the division nearly wiped out. The Reds (29-28) beat the Brewers (27-28) in their series finale to close within percentage points of St. Louis headed toward a pivotal final weekend.
Both of Perez’s homers came off Carlos Martinez (0-3), who departed with a strained lower back with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth. Seth Elledge inherited a 1-0 count against Cordero, who had just returned from a wrist injury, and he crushed his first homer of the year two pitches later to extend the Kansas City lead.
Cordero added a solo shot off Kodi Whitley in the seventh for his second career multi-homer game.
Danny Duffy (4-4) allowed Dexter Fowler’s single in the fifth inning and loaded the bases in the sixth, but reliever Scott Barlow retired pinch-hitter Brad Miller to preserve a 6-1 lead. The Royals’ bullpen handled the Cardinals the rest of the way to give Kansas City its first rubber-game win in six tries this season.
Duffy allowed six hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. Martinez gave up eight runs on nine hits and two walks in five-plus.
Cincinnati finishes with three games against Minnesota, while the weary Cardinals welcome Milwaukee for five games in four days beginning Thursday night. If needed to determine who makes the postseason or home-field advantage, St. Louis also faces two potential makeup games against Detroit on Monday.
At least the Cardinals won’t have to face Perez again.
The hot-hitting Royals catcher sent the first pitch he saw from Martinez an estimated 437 feet to center field for a two-run homer. Two innings later, he crushed a 1-0 offering an estimated 435 feet to left for a three-run shot. It was the sixth career multi-homer game for Perez, who is hitting .358 for the season.
OF Bubba Starling (back spasms) and RHP Kyle Zimmer (elbow pain) were placed on the injured list. Cordero and LHP Mike Montgomery (lat strain) returned from rehab assignments. RHP Jakob Junis was recalled from the alternate training site and INF/OF Erick Mejia was optioned there. RHP Matt Harvey (lat strain) was transferred to the 45-day IL.