Dan Uggla reacts to one of many questionable called third strikes on the Braves on Wednesday during a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals, who seemed to be the beneficiary of an expanded strike zone all day for starter Wade Davis. Davis, to his credit, had a great day, allowing just five hits against the red-hot Braves, who saw their 10-game winning streak end.
ATLANTA — The Kansas City Royals witnessed firsthand the power in the Atlanta Braves’ lineup on Tuesday night. Less than 24 hours later, they short-circuited it.
Wade Davis stopped Atlanta on five hits through seven innings and the Kansas City Royals ended the Braves’ 10-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday to gain an interleague series split. The loss by the Braves (12-2) also prevented this year’s team from matching the second-best start in franchise history of 13-1.
Davis, who pitched out of the bullpen for Tampa Bay last season, walked none and struck out seven to outduel Atlanta’s Mike Minor.
“That’s a good lineup. I saw what they could do,” Davis said. “I just tried to keep the ball down and mix it up a lot.”
The Braves, who slugged five homers in a 6-3 victory against the Royals in the opener of the two-game series, had 68 runs in their previous 13 games while outscoring opponents by 42 runs.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” said Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, who had homered the previous night.
Royals manager Ned Yost said it was a classic pitcher’s duel.
“We didn’t have many pitches to hit (Wednesday). Minor was tremendous. But fortunately for us, I think they had less pitches to hit, which shows the way Davis pitched,” he said.
Unlike the night before, the Kansas City bullpen was also up to the challenge.
Kelvin Herrera, who had allowed three homers in four batters, made it through the eighth inning with a harmless single, and Greg Holland struck out the side in the ninth for his third save.
“When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on,” Yost said of Herrera’s recovery.
The Royals’ run came in the fourth on a two-out single by former Braves star Jeff Francoeur off Minor. Alcides Escobar broke a 0-for-15 streak with a leadoff single and Lorenzo Cain, who had three hits, reached on a swinging bunt down the third-base line with two outs.
Francoeur, who broke in with the Braves, also had a two-out RBI in the opener and was 3 for 8 in the series.
Atlanta threatened to tie the score in the seventh, but Juan Francisco was thrown out at the plate. Chris Johnson dunked a double just fair inside the right-field line. But Royals second baseman Chris Getz retrieved the ball next to the tarp and drew a strike to catcher Salvador Perez to nail Francisco, who had singled with two outs.
The loss prevented the Braves from matching their 1994 start of 13-1 - second-best to a 13-0 start in 1982. The 10-game winning streak was the Braves’ best since they won an Atlanta-record 15 in a row in 2000.
Kansas City, meanwhile, is 8-6 and gaining some early season respect.
The Braves had just three base runners in the first five innings off Davis and one was on an error. No one reached second base until Jason Heyward doubled with two outs in the sixth, but Davis struck out Justin Upton to end the inning.
“They have a heck of a team,” Davis said. “It was a good win.”
Davis (2-0) threw 92 pitches in seven innings, 62 of them strikes.
Acquired along with James Shields from Tampa Bay during the winter, Davis pitched five innings in a 3-0 victory over Minnesota last Sunday to win his second start for the Royals.
Minor (2-1) allowed five hits and the one run before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. He struck out five, walked none and threw 61 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
The left-hander came in with a seven-game winning streak dating to August and had a 1.78 ERA in nine games during that stretch. He was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in his first two starts this year.
“I felt sharp again,” Minor said. “But they fouled off a lot of pitches and that got my pitch count up.”
NOTES: Royals leadoff hitter Alex Gordon was 0 for 4 and had his hitting streak ended at 12 games. … Left-hander Luis Avilan, who fell to the ground in pain while throwing a pitch for the Braves in the ninth inning on Tuesday, may be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list. The reliever was able to walk with a modest limp on Wednesday and the injury to his left leg was diagnosed as a hamstring strain and severe cramp. … The Braves begin a 10-game, 11-day road trip on Thursday in Pittsburgh. The two-game series with the Royals was a brief break in a stretch where the Braves play 16 of 18 games on the road. … The Braves will make their first trip to Kansas City to play two games against the Royals on June 25-26. … Former Royals outfielder and two-sport star Bo Jackson threw out the first pitch. … The Royals are off for the second time in four days on Thursday before opening a weekend series in Boston. The three games at Fenway Park will be the first since the bombings during the Boston Marathon on Monday.