Shields sharp as Royals turn back Rockies 5-1

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Moments after James Shields struck out Rockies slugger Troy Tulowitzki, catcher Salvador Perez popped to his feet behind the plate and demanded the ball.

Shields raised his hands in utter confusion.

“He was like, ‘What’s going on? This is a good ball. I like this ball,’” Royals manager Ned Yost said, “‘and Salvy is making me throw the ball back in.’”

It took Shields a moment - and some help from the scoreboard - to realize he had just reached 1,500 career strikeouts. It came in the sixth inning Tuesday night as he struck out the side, highlighting Kansas City’s 5-1 victory over hot-hitting Colorado.

“Normally when the umpire calls for the ball, the hitter is checking the ball or whatever, wants to take it out of play,” Shields said with a grin. “And I’m like, ‘I just struck the guy out!’ But once they pointed at the scoreboard I knew what was going on.”

The only run Shields (5-3) allowed came on an RBI single by Justin Morneau in the fourth inning. Shields wound up striking out eight without issuing a walk over seven sharp innings.

Perez helped him out with the bat, too, hitting a solo homer. Alcides Escobar drove in a pair of runs and Lorenzo Cain added a two-run shot to provide plenty of support.

Franklin Morales (3-3) gave up four runs for the Rockies. He allowed eight hits and four walks without a strikeout in five innings, needing 99 pitches just to get that far.

“I need to pitch better, man, because that’s my job,” he said. “I try to do the best I can, but when I’m behind in the count every time I got in trouble.”

The Royals jumped on Morales right from the start, a pair of double plays the only thing keeping the game from getting out of hand early. Still, Kansas City was able to coax a run across on a two-out single by Escobar to take the lead in the second inning.

Cain made it a 3-1 lead with his two-run shot in the fourth. It was the first home run by the Royals’ injury-prone outfielder since July 4 against Cleveland. The ball landed in the bullpen in left field to end a drought for Cain spanning 206 at-bats.

Perez added his solo shot in the fifth, the ball landing in just about the same spot.

That was more than enough support for Shields, who induced a double play to escape a jam in the second inning and then left two runners aboard in the fourth during a nice bounce-back performance at Kauffman Stadium.

In his previous home start, Shields allowed eight runs and 12 hits in a loss to Detroit.

“He did a good job of shutting this lineup down,” Rockies catcher Jordan Pacheco said.

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