KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Rougned Odor homered and the Texas Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 3-2 victory over the struggling Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Bibens-Dirkx (1-1) allowed one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings for his first victory since last Sept. 6 in a relief appearance at Atlanta — and sent the Royals to their ninth straight loss.
Kansas City’s slump is its longest this season, and the Royals have dropped 15 of 16 overall and been outscored 102-38 while losing 16 of 18 in June. Their worst June in franchise history was 7-19 in 1970, the team’s second year in existence.
Bibens-Dirkx, a 33-year-old right-hander, spent 12 years in the minors, including two seasons with independent league teams before making his big league debut last year. He was called up to replace Yohander Mendez, who was sent to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday after violating team rules.
Jake Diekman worked the ninth for his second save, but not before yielding a leadoff homer to Mike Moustakas.
Odor homered into the Royals’ bullpen with two outs in the sixth on a 1-2 pitch from Royals starter Jakob Junis, who has lost his last five starts and has not won since May 18. Junis (5-8) has given up 19 home runs to tie for the American League lead. He allowed three runs and five hits with four walks and a hit batter.
Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a single, extending his on-base streak to 34 games. He stole second, moved to third on Elvis Andrus’ high chopper back to Junis and scored on Nomar Mazara’s fly out to center fielder Rosell Herrera.
The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the second on singles by Jurickson Profar and Odor and Joey Gallo’s first of three walks. The Rangers, however, converted that into only one run when Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded into a double play.
Alex Gordon singled with one out in the Kansas City second and scored on Hunter Dozier’s double.
Alcides Escobar, who’s in a 3-for-53 skid, debated a called third strike to lead off the eight for Kansas City and was ejected by plate umpire Chad Fairchild. The Royals have three ejections in four games after having none in the first 70.
Bibens-Dirkx and Kiner-Falefa became the first starting pitcher and catcher in big league history with hyphenated last names. This was Kiner-Falefa’s first time to catch in the majors, although he started five games this season with Triple-A Round Rock. “He’s excited about doing it,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “It’ll be fun to watch. We think that he has a good chance to be able to make this a success.”
After the Royals traded closer Kelvin Herrera to Washington, who will inherit that role? “All of them,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of his relievers. “Opportunity exists down there. We’ll have to see who takes advantage of it. I’ll look at different guys, but I would prefer one guy to emerge, take advantage of the opportuity. But it’s wide-open right now.”
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (elbow discomfort) threw batting practice to C Robinson Chirinos and OF Carlos Tocci. He is hopeful to begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday. “There were some quality pitches inside the set, like a guy that was getting ready to take the next step of the rehab process,” Banister said. ... RHP Chris Martin (right calf strain) also threw to hitters. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday. “He’s close,” Banister said.
Rangers: Off on Thursday before opening a weekend series Friday at Minnesota with LHP Mike Minor (4-4, 5.35) starting.
Royals: Travel day on Thursday to Houston, where LHP Danny Duffy (3-7, 5.55) will start the series opener Friday.