- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Yordano Ventura throws a fastball that can touch three figures on radar guns, while Texas Rangers left-hander Wandy Rodriguez seldom reaches 90 mph.

Rodriguez easily outpitched Ventura on Saturday as the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2.

Texas has won seven of eight games, and has taken six straight series for the first time since 2012.

The AL champion Royals have lost nine of 11.

Rodriguez pitched seven effective innings. Staked to an early 4-0 lead, he held the Royals to one run and six hits.

Ventura was pulled after three ineffective innings and 78 pitches, giving up four runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batter.

“Look at the difference in Wandy Rodriguez’s stuff and Yordano Ventura’s stuff,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Wandy was throwing it up there at 88-89 miles per hour and Yordano was throwing it at 98-99 miles per hour.

“The difference between the two, and the reason Wandy won today, is Wandy works down and he works on the corners. He changes speeds with his changeup,” he said.

Ventura (3-5) continued to struggle early, allowing four runs in the first two innings.

Ventura has a 6.14 ERA in the first two innings in his 11 starts with opponents hitting .314 off him. He has yielded 15 runs on 27 hits, seven walks and two hit batters in the first two innings.

“I was a little wild at first,” Ventura said with teammate Christian Colon as his interpreter. “I felt like I settled down a little bit. It was one of those days. It wasn’t working.”

“I was trying to get myself together, back in the ballgame. I wanted to focus and make sure I made pitches. Maybe I let my guard down a little bit right there, just thinking too much about other stuff rather than concentrating on hitting my spots,” he said.

Ventura gave up six hits, walked two and hit a batter against Texas in his shortest outing of the season.

“Today it was fastballs up in the zone that would catch too much of the plate. That’s a good-hitting group over there. They’re not going to miss those pitches, and it doesn’t matter if it’s 98,” Yost said.

“He has to continue to develop, to understand that with power stuff, you still have to be able to locate and execute your pitches. If you think you’re going to rare back and fire it - and I’m not saying he does think that - it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer tried to encourage Ventura on the mound.

“He obviously looked frustrated,” he said. “I just challenged him, ‘That’s what everyone on the team is feeling. We’re all frustrated.’”

“We’re all going through a rough time. He’s our ace pitcher. It’s still early in the game. We still have time to come back. I just told him to focus and do his best to eat up some innings for us.”

Rodriguez (3-2), a 36-year-old lefty who signed with the Rangers in early April after Atlanta released him in spring training, gave up one run and six hits. He walked none and struck out four.

Shawn Tolleson gave up a home run to Salvador Perez in the ninth, but picked up his seven seventh save in as many opportunities.

The Royals avoided their second straight shutout when Jarrod Dyson led off the sixth with a double, his fifth straight hit, and scored on Mike Moustakas’ single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (biceps tendinitis) threw off the mound Saturday and could begin a rehab assignment next week.

UP NEXT

Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis has an 8.86 ERA in his past four starts, but has won two of them.

Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie is 23-11 with a 2.70 ERA with Kansas City in games when he has not allowed a home run. He is 14-18 with a 5.57 ERA when he yields at least one HR.

BLANTON AGAIN

Joe Blanton threw 3 1-3 scoreless innings and 51 pitches after Ventura exited. Blanton has worked in three straight games.

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