KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — This was better for Jakob Junis ... but not good enough to help his team end a long skid.
The 25-year-old Junis bounced back from a pair of rough outings with a quality start, but KC's offense remained dormant in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have now lost nine straight and 15 of their last 16. They fell to 22-52 overall and have mustered a combined 38 runs in 18 June games.
For Junis, though, Wednesday had some positives. After allowing three home runs in each of his previous two starts, the right-hander was better, going six innings while allowing three runs.
The challenge for him remains the same. Junis possesses a dynamite slider — Fangraphs' pitch values have it rated 13th-best out of 64 qualified starters who use the pitch — but getting to that offering has been an issue. Junis' fastball and sinker have been inconsistent and also prone to homers, and his 18 longballs allowed coming in ranked as the second most in the American League.
Junis settled down Wednesday after a shaky start. He allowed single runs in the first and second, with each of the Rangers' three hits coming against fastballs and sinkers.
Those pitches served him better until the sixth. Rougned Odor, who had one home run entering the game, yanked an inside fastball over the bullpen wall in right, pushing the Rangers' lead to 3-1.
That cushion would prove to be enough.
The Royals' offense went mostly punchless for another night, this time against a starter who didn't figure to be overwhelming.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who was called up for an unexpected spot start after Yohander Mendez was demoted for a violation of team rules, had allowed 11 earned runs in his previous 101/3 innings at Triple-A Round Rock.
That all didn't matter Wednesday. Though Bibens-Dirkx had no strikeouts, he limited hard contact, allowing just one run and five hits in 62/3 innings. Hunter Dozier had the Royals' only extra-base hit against Bibens-Dirkx, a double, in the second inning.
Mike Moustakas broke a nine-game homerless streak with a 422-foot blast in the ninth, but following a Salvador Perez single, Jake Diekman picked up a strikeout and force out before Hunter Dozier was caught stealing to end the game.
Alcides Escobar, who started his 407th consecutive game at shortstop, was ejected in the bottom of the eighth by home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild after arguing a third-strike call. It was the fourth ejection of Escobar's career.