By Robert Falkoff and Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Joe Panik looped a two-out single to right-center, just in front of a diving Lorenzo Cain, scoring Nick Hundley from second base and the Giants slipped past the Royals, 2-1, in 11 innings Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Panik's single came off Royals left-hander Scott Alexander, who gave up a two-out double to Hundley on a 3-2 pitch.
"That's why we have him here," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He swung the bat well."
Both starters turned in their best outings of the year. Royals right-hander Jason Hammel worked six-plus innings and gave up six hits and one run. Giants right-hander Matt Cain was even better, going seven innings while giving up four hits and one run.
"I think I did a good job of moving the ball in and out," Cain said. "They weren't able to sit on one side of the plate and it worked out well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED No more seventh-inning meltdown: During the first four games this season, the Royals gave up 14 runs in the seventh innings. But Tuesday, they squelched a Giants rally with superb bullpen work. With the score 1-1, Brandon Crawford doubled and Eduardo Nunez singled, putting runners on the corners with none out. Reliever Peter Moylan came on and struck out Hundley. Left-hander Travis Wood replaced Moyland and walked Panik. But Wood struck out Chris Marrero looking and then got Denard Span to hit a weak groundout to second.
"That was the best cutter I've had so far this season," Wood said. "I really stayed behind it."
Added Yost, "Our bullpen was phenomenal again. To get out of that jam was just a great job."
Another great escape: Giants reliever Derek Law danced out of big trouble in the 10th. With one out, Mike Moustakas singled and Paulo Orlando pinch-ran. Lorenzo Cain followed with a line single to second, pushing the winning run to second. Law fell behind the slumping Eric Hosmer 3-1, but got Hosmer to roll into a 4-6-3 double play. Hosmer originally was ruled safe but the call was overturned after a Giants challenge.
"That's a tough lineup to go through," said Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, who was handling managerial duties Tuesday. "I thought our righties handled their lefties very well."
The perfect kick: The Royals denied the Giants a run after an amazing tag by catcher Salvador Perez nailed Brandon Belt at the plate in the sixth inning. Buster Posey sent a grounder up the middle with Belt on second base. Royals second baseman Raul Mondesi bobbled the grounder as Belt kept running, heading for home. Mondesi's throw home was up the first-base line, but Perez made a nice one-hop snare, then lunged back toward the plate as the ball snow-coned in his mitt. Belt seemed to kick the ball back into Perez's mitt and was out on a close play.
"I don't know how Salvy hung on to that ball," Hammel said. "Nine out of 10 times that ball gets kicked loose. Strong hands. That definitely was the play of the game."
"I mean, we can talk about Mondi until we're blue in the face. But we were 1 of 11 with runners in scoring position. Mondi's not the problem." -- Yost on not pinch-hitting for struggling Raul Mondesi with two on and two out in the ninth
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 3.43 ERA) will take the mound Wednesday in a park where he dominated during the 2014 World Series. Bumgarner has been the victim of anemic run support this year, with the Giants scoring only five runs over three games with Bumgarner on the mound.
Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas (2-0, 0.66 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in Wednesday's series finale at 7:15 p.m. CT. Vargas was outstanding last Thursday against the A's, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 3-1 win. Vargas walked one and struck out eight.