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Rockies strike out season-high 12 times in 5-1 loss to Royals to open 2-game series

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Brandon Barnes struck out twice, once leaving a runner on base. Charlie Blackmon also ended an inning with a strikeout, and Corey Dickerson began the next with another one.

Everyone who batted in the sixth inning for Colorado struck out, too.

One of the hottest hitting teams in baseball, the Rockies were neutralized by Royals starter James Shields on Tuesday night, fanning a season-high 12 times in a 5-1 loss to Kansas City.

"He just went after all of us. That's why he's pitched a long time," said Jordan Pacheco, who struck out twice. "He said, 'Here it is.' He had his stuff tonight and we didn't have our stuff tonight. You've got to tip your hat to him."

The only run Shields allowed came on an RBI single by Justin Morneau in the fourth inning. Shields (5-3) followed it up by retiring the final 10 batters he faced, striking out the side in the sixth inning and fanning Troy Tulowitzki for the 1,500th strikeout of his career.

"He threw a lot of changeups. The changeup is pretty much his go-to pitch," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It looked like he was throwing the fastball on the outer part of the plate, on the corner, and then he'd go to the changeup. It's been a good formula for him for a while."

Alcides Escobar added a pair of RBIs, and relievers Wade Davis and Aaron Crow wrapped up the win for the Royals, who opened a nine-game homestand — their longest so far this season.

Franklin Morales (3-3) gave up four runs for the Rockies. He allowed eight hits and four walks without a strikeout in five innings, needing 99 pitches just to get that far.

"I need to pitch better, man, because that's my job," he said. "I try to do the best I can, but when I'm behind in the count every time I got in trouble."

The Royals jumped on Morales right from the start, a pair of double plays the only thing keeping the game from getting out of hand early. Still, Kansas City was able to coax a run across on a two-out single by Escobar to take the lead in the second inning.

Lorenzo Cain made it a 3-1 lead with his two-run shot in the fourth. It was the first home run by the Royals' injury-prone outfielder since July 4 against Cleveland. The ball landed in the bullpen in left field to end a drought for Cain spanning 206 at-bats.

Salvador Perez added a solo shot in the fifth, the ball landing in just about the same spot.

That was more than enough support for Shields, who induced a double play to escape a jam in the second inning and then left two runners aboard in the fourth. He wound up striking out eight without issuing a walk in a nice bounce-back performance at Kauffman Stadium.

In his previous home start, Shields allowed eight runs and 12 hits in a loss to Detroit.

When he recorded his milestone strikeout, the crowd at the K gave him a standing ovation. Shields appeared to be confused by the spontaneous applause, raising his hands on the mound as if to say, "What?" Eventually, he turned around on the rubber to see his strikeout mark on the giant video board in centre field and started chuckling.

After stepping off the back of the mound, Shields tipped his cap and went back to work. He struck out Carlos Gonzalez to end the inning, then set down the Rockies in order in the seventh, finishing off his night by striking out Barnes for the second time.

"I knew about 10 days ago I was getting close," Shields said. "To be honest with you, I didn't even know how many strikeouts I had in the game. But that was a pretty special moment. Once I realized it, it's kind of crazy to think — 1,500 strikeouts is quite a bit of strikeouts."

NOTES: Nobody struck out for Kansas City. ... RHP Tommy Kahnle threw two shutout innings in relief for Colorado. ... The Rockies activated Josh Rutledge (illness) from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... LHP Jason Vargas will start Wednesday for Kansas City. RHP Jhoulys Chacin takes the mound for Colorado.

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