KANSAS CITY, Missouri — After Royals manager Ned Yost saw the Pirates' Gerrit Cole pitch a scoreless inning in the All-Star game, he knew his hitters could be in for a long night Tuesday.
Cole took a shutout into the eighth inning before Kansas City broke through for three runs — helped by two Pittsburgh errors — and then held on to beat the Pirates 3-1.
Jarrod Dyson's two-run single was the key hit in the inning and he later scored on Alcides Escobar's single.
"Cole, that kid is a bona fide ace," Yost said. "You don't face pitching like that very often. You can count probably maybe a little more than both hands of bona fide aces in baseball and he's definitely one of them.
"I was really impressed in seeing him one inning in the All-Star game, so I had a little bit of an idea of what we're up against. Then to watch him work tonight, he was very, very impressive. To squeak a win out (against) a pitcher of that caliber was phenomenal."
Cole (13-4), who leads the majors in victories, was charged with all three runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.
With one out in the eighth, Omar Infante reached on a fielding error charged to second baseman Neil Walker.
"Plain and simple, I missed the ball," Walker said. "I feel worse than anybody about putting Cole in that situation, especially that one pitch. It didn't do anything. It just went right under my glove."
Alex Rios' single moved Infante to third and Rios took second on the throw to third.
"I'm pretty frustrated on the pitch to Rios," Cole said. "I was trying to go down and in and I left it middle-up. He burned me on that pitch earlier in the game, so I'm kind of frustrated that I made the same mistake twice. That put two very good runners in scoring position."
Dyson followed with a sharp single to right, driving in Infante and Rios. When Gregory Polanco fumbled the ball, Dyson advanced to second, stole third and scored on Escobar's single.
Take away the errors and Cole probably leaves after eight scoreless innings.
"I'm not so sure they got to Cole, to be quite frank with you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We got in our way in the eighth inning. We got in our way on three consecutive plays. We could have taken better care of the ball that could have resulted in a much different situation."
Royals starter Jason Vargas left in the second inning after throwing 26 pitches with pain in his left elbow and will undergo a MRI Wednesday to detect the extent of the injury.
"It didn't feel good by any means," Vargas said. "I just knew I wasn't able to make any more pitches. The last two were pretty uncomfortable."
Vargas left after throwing a 2-1 pitch for a ball to Brent Morel with one out in the second.
The Pirates had a run removed in the second, which began with a Starling Marte fly hitting high off the left-field wall and bouncing into the Royals' bullpen. It was initially ruled a home run, but was overturned on a crew chief challenge and ruled a ground-rule double. MLB released a statement on the ruling, saying the replay "definitely determined" the ball struck below the top of the wall and bounced over.
Marte was stranded at third.
ON THIS DATE
On July 21, 1978, 20-year-old Royals outfielder Clint Hurdle went 3 for 3 with a home run and six RBIs against the Rangers.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano threw a bullpen session with no issues and will start Thursday against the Nationals. A stiff neck prevented Liriano from starting Saturday. ... C Francisco Cervelli was held out with a bruised right wrist.
Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton is 3-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 12 career starts in interleague play, including a June 28, 2009, loss to the Royals.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez, who went 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his final 17 starts last season with Pittsburgh, will start Wednesday against the Pirates.