KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Perhaps it simply took a whirlwind trip to the White House for the Kansas City Royals to remember that they're the reigning World Series champions.
Danny Duffy scattered four hits while pitching into the seventh inning, the Royals scratched out three runs off the Rangers' Yu Darvish, and Kansas City shrugged off a sluggish start to the second half to beat Texas 3-1 on Friday night in the opener of their three-game series.
"I think being around the guys on an off day was a positive," said Duffy, who along with the rest of the Royals slipped out of town to see President Barack Obama in the midst of a long homestand. "We got to do something not a lot of people get to do."
The Royals had dropped four of six since the All-Star break before Friday night, when Duffy (6-1) gave up only Rougned Odor's homer in the fourth inning. The left-hander struck out four, walked two and gave his bullpen a breather on a steamy evening that began with a heat index of 108 degrees.
The victory kept the Royals (48-47) from dropping below .500 for the first time since May 17.
"Duffy's got a big fastball with a quality changeup and breaking ball. He was really tough on us," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "A quality start, a quality starter, he's been doing that all year."
Darvish (2-2) nearly matched Duffy in his third start off the disabled list. He allowed single runs in each of the first three innings, struck out 11 and made only one big mistake -- Cheslor Cuthbert's home run.
"I feel really good about where Yu is at and what he showed us tonight," Banister said.
Still, it wasn't good enough to keep the AL West-leading Rangers from losing for the eighth time in nine games. The slide has been marked by poor pitching, inconsistent hitting and a series of devastating injuries -- sluggers Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo went on the DL earlier this week.
Without them, the Rangers certainly struggled to create scoring chances Friday night.
Duffy carved through the lineup without allowing a hit the first time through, the only baserunner a walk to Elvis Andrus. He went on to load the bases on a single and hit batter in the third inning, but Duffy calmly struck out Ian Desmond on three pitches to leave them stranded.
His only other trouble came when he put runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh, forcing Hochevar in from the bullpen. He got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland on a liner to preserve a 3-1 lead.
They built it in typical Royals fashion: They scored a run in the first on a single, stolen base, error and groundout then scored again in the second on a walk, stolen base and consecutive singles.
It wasn't until Cuthbert went deep leading off the third that they made Darvish look fallible.
"Darvish is a really good pitcher," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "To scratch out two runs early is perfect situational baseball, to give us that lead early."
Rangers: Fielder will see neck specialist Dr. Drew Dossett on Monday. The DH/1B is facing the prospect of season-ending neck surgery after an MRI earlier this week revealed a herniated disk near an area that was repaired two years ago. Dossett also performed that procedure.
Royals: CF Lorenzo Cain (left hamstring strain) hoped to begin a rehab assignment his weekend, but it has been pushed back to early next week. He's been on the DL since June 29. "He was pushing it too hard two days ago and just kind of fatigued his leg," Yost said. "Not a setback by any stretch."
Orioles come up big with 5-run fifth
The Orioles score five runs off Stephen Strasburg with consecutive hits from Bryan Holaday, Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander.
Nationals grounds crew struggles with tarp
During a rain delay, the Nationals grounds crew has a hard time getting the tarp to cooperate.
Strasburg hit hard in debut; O's-Nats suspended after rain
Stephen Strasburg's 2020 debut for the Nationals unraveled in a five-run fifth inning Sunday, when the World Series MVP allowed six consecutive batters to reach base before being lifted, and Washington's game against the Baltimore Orioles was...
Mets beat Marlins 4-2 behind deGrom, rookie Giménez
Jacob deGrom dodged trouble for five innings, rookie Andres Gimenez had three hits and scored three runs, and the New York Mets won a home series for the first time this season by beating the Miami Marlins 4-2 on Sunday.
Acuna homers to lead Braves past Phillies 5-2 in first of 2
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a two-run homer to put the Atlanta Braves ahead for good in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday.
Moreland 2 HRs, walk-off shot sends Red Sox over Toronto 5-3
Mitch Moreland hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot over the Green Monster to send the Boston Red Sox past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Sunday.