Jays score off Greinke but fall to Royals

Jays score off Greinke but fall to Royals

KANSAS CITY -- The initial objective for the Blue Jays on Wednesday night was to become the first team this season to score an earned run off Kansas City's Zack Greinke.

That mission was accomplished thanks to a Marco Scutaro double and Vernon Wells' run-scoring single in the first. But what Toronto really wanted was to beat Greinke and Co. Because Brian Tallet struggled and Billy Butler turned into a power machine, that overriding mission for Toronto turned into Mission Improbable.

Butler launched four hits, including two homers and a double, and Greinke steadied himself after an early glitch as the Royals ran away with an 11-3 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

The Jays get no boost in the standings from snapping Greinke's streak of 43 innings dating back to last year without giving up an earned run. Greinke, now averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings, had become such a big deal that he was selected for the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

Had the Jays received a stellar pitching performance, they would have had a shot at hanging with the Greinke-led Royals. Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the third, but had a chance for a much better inning. There were runners at first and third with no outs when Alex Rios bounced into a double play as a run scored.

From that point on, it was all Royals.

Butler, who had a second inning solo homer, was down in the count, 0-2, with two outs in the third and runners at first and third. Then Butler smashed a two-run double to left for a 3-2 Kansas City lead. Left-handed-hitting Mike Jacobs followed with a run-scoring single against the lefty Tallet, and the rout was on.

The Jays (15-8) cannot extend their streak of winning six consecutive series to start the season. They'll try to salvage a split of the four-game set on Thursday.

"Too much Billy Butler," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "[Tallet] had a couple of strikes on Billy there and let him get away a couple of times."

Tallet wasn't about to dwell on the 0-2 pitch that Butler ripped into the left-field corner for the two-run double, giving the Royals the lead for good.

Just when it seemed that Tallet was about to escape a big jam, Butler's whistling double gave the Royals a huge jolt of momentum.

"I made a pretty good pitch and he just made a better swing," Tallet said. "In that situation, I probably should have thrown a changeup, but I didn't. I'm not going to second guess myself or my catcher. They hit the ball hard tonight, I wasn't able to get them out as many times as I needed to, and it really set the tone for the game."

Once the Royals began spraying hits all over Kauffman Stadium, it put Greinke in cruise control as he improved his record to 5-0, becoming the first pitcher in the Majors to five wins.

After allowing two earned runs in seven innings, Greinke has an 0.50 ERA in five starts.

"He has great stuff and is able to throw every pitch for a strike," Wells said. "He's not a guy who falls into patterns. He kind of keeps you off-balance, and then he can blow you away with 95 [miles per hour] if he wants to. He was dominant, as he has been all year."

The Jays didn't take long to break Greinke's streak of unearned runs. After a half-hour rain delay, Scutaro opened the game with a double to right-center that skipped deep on the wet grass. Greinke fanned Aaron Hill and Rios, but Wells drove home the run with a single to center.

Having the earned run streak snapped didn't deflate Greinke.

"It would have been nice if we could have added on," Wells said. "With the way they were swinging the bats and then having Greinke on the mound, it made for a tough night."

Tallet's ERA roared from 2.95 to 6.45 after he was charged with 10 earned runs in four innings.

"It seemed like I could get those two outs [most innings], but I just wasn't able to make the pitch to get the third out," Tallet said. "Hats off to them. We'll go back to the drawing board and be better next time."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.