Matt Carpenter hit his National League-leading 32nd homer during a five-run second inning Friday night as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised to a 7-0 win over the host Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The Cardinals have won three straight and seven of nine to improve to 14-9 under interim manager Mike Shildt. The Royals have lost seven of eight.

Paul DeJong led off the second by homering against Burch Smith (1-4), who was one out away from escaping the inning before he gave up four straight hits, including an RBI single by Harrison Bader immediately before Carpenter's homer.

Carpenter has homered in three straight games -- his third homer streak of at least three games since July 14, a span of just 24 games. He homered in six straight games from July 14-21, during which he hit eight round-trippers, and he homered in three consecutive contests from Aug. 3-5. Overall since June 14, Carpenter is batting .352 with 15 homers and 23 RBIs in just 91 at-bats.

Yadier Molina doubled following Carpenter's blast before Jose Martinez chased Smith with an RBI single.

Bader (homer) and Martinez (double) accounted for single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Martinez finished with three hits.

Austin Gomber (2-0), making his third big league start, cruised to the win after allowing four hits and one walk while striking out three over five innings.

Chasen Shreve allowed a hit in the sixth inning before Daniel Poncedeleon earned his first big league save by working the final three innings. He allowed two hits and three walks while striking out one.

Brett Phillips and Lucas Duda each accounted for two of the Royals' seven hits.

Smith allowed five runs on six hits and one walk while striking out none over 1 2/3 innings. It was the third time he's lasted fewer than two innings in 13 big league starts.

Glenn Sparkman relieved Smith and allowed two runs over a career-high 4 1/3 innings.

--Field Level Media