Rookie Jack Flaherty tossed seven strong innings Saturday night and five St. Louis batters collected two hits apiece as the Cardinals beat the host Kansas City Royals 8-3 at Kauffman Stadium.
The Cardinals have won the first two games of the three-game interleague "I-70" series and four straight overall to improve to 15-9 under interim manager Mike Shildt.
The Royals have dropped eight of nine and with their 81st loss are already ensured of a non-winning record this season.
Flaherty (6-6) gave up two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out nine in winning his second straight start.
The Cardinals scored all the runs they'd need with five straight two-out hits in the third off Danny Duffy (7-11). Yadier Molina doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jose Martinez's single. Marcell Ozuna (triple), Paul DeJong (double) and Jedd Gyorko (single) followed with RBI hits to make it 4-0.
The Royals did get to Flaherty in the fifth, when Ryan O'Hearn singled with one out and Alcides Escobar followed with a two-run homer to make it 4-2. Flaherty then retired the final eight batters he faced, including four by strikeout.
Harrison Bader (sixth inning) and Martinez (ninth inning) added two-run homers. Bader, Molina, Ozuna and Gyorko all joined Martinez in having two hits apiece.
The Royals stirred in the eighth, when Escobar drew a leadoff walk against Dakota Hudson before Adalberto Mondesi beat out an infield single. Whit Merrifield hit into a double play but Escobar raced home from third when Hudson threw a wild pitch on ball four to Alex Gordon.
Jordan Hicks then struck out Salvador Perez before closing out his third save with a scoreless ninth.
Escobar had two hits for the Royals.
Duffy gave up six runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out two over 5 1/3 innings. He has given up 12 runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts to raise his ERA from 4.50 to 4.90.
--Field Level Media