CHICAGO (AP) — Bobby Witt Jr. hit a go-ahead home run and Cole Ragans pitched six effective innings to help the Kansas City Royals end a three-game skid with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Ragans (4-4) struck out nine while allowing eight hits and all three Chicago runs. He struck out three straight batters to end his final inning.
“I knew it would be my last inning,” Ragans said. “I emptied the tank right there and gave it everything I had.”
The Cubs started the day 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central standings and missed a chance to creep closer after striking out 13 times. Carlos Hernández, the last of four Royals relievers, pitched the ninth for his second save in five chances.
Jameson Taillon (7-8) was charged with two earned runs after allowing six hits and striking out three in the first six innings.
“That’s a sneaky, tough little lineup,” Taillon said after dropping his second straight start. “They made it a bit of a grind on me.”
Kansas City’s Matt Duffy reached on an error to start the sixth before Witt knocked his 24th homer of the season into center field.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” Witt said after helping Kansas City to just its 17th road victory of the season.
The Royals took the lead in the third on Kyle Isbel’s RBI single and got another run an inning later on Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly.
The Cubs answered with a three-run, five-hit fourth that included RBI singles from Jeimer Candelario and Christopher Morel.
WAIT AND SEE
Cubs All-Star RHP Marcus Stroman said he doesn’t know when he’ll return from a rib injury. Stroman (10-8, 3.85 ERA) went on the 15-day injured list Aug. 1 with right hip inflammation but a subsequent MRI revealed a right rib cartilage fracture. The club had hoped to activate him for a series against the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week.
“I can barely turn right now,” he said during the game. “Breathing’s tough at some points, and I can’t sit for long periods of time. I’m just taking it day by day.”
IT GOT A LITTLE LOUD
Fans enjoyed more than just a mild, sunny afternoon on Chicago’s north side. Fighter jets and other military aircraft buzzed across the sky near Wrigley Field throughout the afternoon as pilots practiced for this weekend’s annual Chicago Air and Water Show.
Royals: 3B Maikel Garcia left the game in the middle of the fourth with what the club called left upper body discomfort. … RHP Taylor Clarke (elbow inflammation) was activated from the 15-day injured list before the game. RHP Max Castillo was optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday. … INF Nick Pratto (left groin strain) made his first rehab appearance at Omaha on Thursday. He’s been on the 10-day injured list since July 28.
Cubs: RHP Nick Burdi (appendectomy recovery) planned to make an appearance for Triple-A Iowa on Friday. … LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee) threw a bullpen session Friday morning. He’s scheduled to do the same early next week. … RHP Edwin Uceta was claimed off waivers from the New York Mets before the game and optioned to Iowa.
Royals RHP Brady Singer (8-8, 4.91) faces Cubs LHP Justin Steele (13-3, 2.79) on Saturday.