SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yovani Gallardo enjoyed some rare run support right from the start.
Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff home run for the second straight game and Prince Fielder homered and had three hits, backing seven strong innings from the Texas Rangers’ right-hander in a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
The Rangers scored just two runs while Gallardo (3-5) was in the game during a four-start losing streak that matched a career worst. He went to the mound in the fifth against the Royals with a 5-0 lead.
“Felt good, to be honest,” said Gallardo, who took a shutout into the seventh inning before allowing run-scoring doubles by Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez. “Like I’ve always said, guys are going to hit. It’s only a matter of time.”
It was a matter of no time at all against the Royals, with Choo pulling Yordano Ventura’s sixth pitch — a 98 mph fastball — into the right-field seats. Fielder made it 4-0 with a two-run homer in the second.
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The first five Texas hitters reached against Ventura (2-3), who gave up at least four runs for the fourth time in five starts. The hard-throwing right-hander’s ERA rose to 5.36 a season after he was among the best rookie pitchers in baseball.
“I understand that those were a couple of mistakes that I made early,” Ventura said through a translator. “But I’m going to continue to work hard, grind it out and see if I can continue to get better.”
Trailing 2-0 with the bases loaded and no outs in the first, Ventura got out of the inning with two of his six strikeouts and a lineout by Thomas Field.
Ventura was on the verge of escaping trouble again in the second after Elvis Andrus grounded into a double play while rookie Delino DeShields stayed at third. But Fielder sent his fourth homer into the seats to the right of the berm in center field.
“The home run was big. It picked us up in an inning that we really needed to tack on some runs,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “He smells the RBI. He smells what pitchers are trying to do. It’s a quality, veteran hitter.”
Gallardo allowed six hits with two strikeouts and a walk in seven innings. Shawn Tolleson and closer Neftali Feliz combined to retire the last six Kansas City hitters, with Feliz getting his sixth save in eight chances.
DeShields had three hits, including his first triple, and scored twice for the Rangers.
Mitch Moreland had two singles and walk in his return from the disabled list after surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. He was 0 for 11 with six walks in a four-game rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Round Rock.
Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees was the previous player with leadoff homers in consecutive games. He did it last July 29-30, also at the Rangers. Choo was the first Texas player to do it since Ian Kinsler on April 1-2, 2011. Choo has 16 leadoff homers since the start of 2012, most in the majors.
A ‘YO-YO’ GAME
The Royals said the Ventura-Gallardo matchup was the first in big league history featuring pitchers whose first names started with “Yo,” according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Rangers: CF Leonys Martin was out of the lineup again with a sore left hand. It’s the sixth time he hasn’t started since spraining his left wrist May 3 against Oakland. He was jammed on a swing Monday, and Banister said the soreness is related to the first injury. Martin appeared as a pinch runner Tuesday. … LHP Matt Harrison (spinal fusion surgery) threw 29 pitches in an extended spring training game in Arizona. He allowed three hits and two runs in two innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-2) faces the Rangers in the finale of the four-game series. He has five straight quality starts and a 2.41 ERA over his last six outings against Texas since the start of 2012.
Rangers: LHP Ross Detwiler (0-4) faces the Royals for the first time.
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