ST. LOUIS — Before this miserable week for the Royals, it had been 13 years since a team had swept the I-70 Series in one season.
But the Cardinals used a familiar script, albeit one that didn’t involve a stray animal, and beat the Royals 8-6 at Busch Stadium on Thursday night, completing a four-game series sweep.
The silver lining for the Royals — if there is one — is that they fought back with a three-run eighth inning and twice came oh-so-close to tying the game.
Alas, a loss is still a loss, and the Royals now find themselves with two teams (the Mariners and Rays) ahead of them in the race for the second wild card.
Both of the Cardinals’ wins at Kauffman Stadium on Monday and Tuesday were aided by a six-run inning. When the series shifted east, the Cardinals used a slightly different blueprint. They fell behind the Royals by three runs both nights at Busch Stadium, only to rally and take the lead on a grand slam.
On Wednesday night, a field-invading cat preceded a St. Louis slam. On Thursday, it was merely a result of a terrible outing from Royals relief pitcher Neftali Feliz.
The game was tied 3-3 when Matt Carpenter opened the Cardinals’ half of the seventh with a single against reliever Mike Minor. Manager Ned Yost brought in Feliz, who faced four batters and failed to record an out.
Carpenter moved to third when Tommy Pham singled to right, and Pham stole second. Paul DeJong drew a walk to load the bases and Dexter Fowler turned on a 94 mph fastball, sending the ball into the Cardinals’ bullpen in right field giving St. Louis a 7-3 advantage.
In the top of the eighth inning, Royals pinch-hitter Brandon Moss stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Moss had been 0 for 7 as a pinch hitter, but he crushed Seung Hwan Oh pitch that caromed off the wall in right-center for a two-run double.
Moss missed a grand slam by perhaps 2 feet.
Whit Merrifield’s sacrifice fly to left got the Royals within one, but Trevor Rosenthal entered for St. Louis and got Lorenzo Cain on a long fly down the right-field line.
The Cardinals pulled a run back against Royals’ reliever Joakim Soria in the bottom of the eighth.
The rally cat has apparently disappeared.
The feline ran onto the field in the sixth inning of the Cardinals' 8-5 win over Kansas City on Wednesday night.
Molina hit a grand slam on the very next pitch after the delay.
The kitten was taken off the field by a member of the Cardinals grounds crew, who set the animal outside the stadium. The cat was picked up by a female fan, who intended to adopt it and take it home. But the cat jumped from her grasp a couple of blocks from the stadium and has not been seen since.
Royals: RHP Trevor Cahill was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder soreness. RHP Kevin McCarthy has been called up from Triple-A Omaha. McCarthy is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 16 appearances over two stints with Kansas City this season.