HOUSTON — Royals outfielder Rosell Herrera, claimed off waivers from the Reds earlier this month and called up to the major-league team five days ago, exceeded all expectations and came up big on Friday.
He looped an RBI triple into center field in the ninth inning off Astros reliever Ken Giles to give the Royals a lead in a 1-0 win at Minute Maid Park.
The hit ended the Royals' nine-game losing streak.
And just minutes earlier, Herrera had robbed Alex Bregman of a home run in the eighth inning. He raced up to the wall in right field, jumped as the ball looked like it would carry over the fence and snagged it in his glove to retain a 0-0 tie.
Earlier in the game, Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy found himself on a knee, gaze pointed over his right shoulder as a batted ball hurtled toward third baseman Mike Moustakas on a hop.
Duffy watched the path of that chopped ball as Astros outfielder George Springer ran home and Yuli Gurriel dashed up the first-base line. With no runs on the board for either team in the sixth and Duffy's pitch count up to 104, the grounder's destination would determine Duffy's fate; he'd loaded the bases on a one-out walk and he desperately needed a double play to retain the tie.
Moustakas delivered, stepping on the bag before slinging a strike to first baseman Hunter Dozier to throw out Gurriel.
It was the second of three double plays the Royals induced to rid themselves of a dubious distinction: They entered the game tied with the Astros in grounding into double plays with 74. The Astros took the lead, climbing to 77 on the year.
It also allowed Duffy to hold onto his third scoreless start of the season.
But as the Royals stumbled on offense for the 10th straight game, it looked like Duffy's seven-strikeout, two-hit performance might fall to the wayside.
Before Herrera's RBI triple, the Royals left 11 men on base over the first eight innings. Twice they left runners in scoring position against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who issued two walks and allowed six hits in six innings.
And in the eighth, when Astros reliever Hector Rondon yielded a Salvador Perez double, intentionally walked Alex Gordon with two outs and issued a five-pitch free pass to Alcides Escobar to load the bases, Paulo Orlando whiffed at a 3-2 pitch a ways outside the strike zone to end the inning.
None of those first eight hits they tallied came with runners in scoring position. They went 1-for-11 in such situations, worsening the .215 average that entered Friday ranked second-lowest in the majors.
Escobar made his first-ever start in center field as the Royals improved to 23-52 with the win.