ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Elarton was better than his last two outings, but a former Royal was dominant and Kansas City lost, 5-1, to the Devil Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Elarton worked 5 2/3 innings, his longest outing in five starts this season. He allowed several hard-hit balls, but was helped by some dazzling defense and several loud outs. In the second inning, Mark Grudzielanek was perfectly positioned for a lined shot by Delmon Young, and Esteban German made a nice backhanded stop on a Brendan Harris ground ball.
Two innings later, David DeJesus made one of the greatest plays by a Royal this season. Ty Wigginton smacked a deep flyball into the left-center-field gap, a gap that juts back from the rest of the field. DeJesus went back and, while slamming into the wall, made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder grab.
Three pitches later, Elarton threw a pitch that no one caught, as Delmon Young smacked a homer into the left-center field seats, which gave the Devil Rays a 2-0 lead.
Offensively, the Royals could do little against left-hander J.P. Howell, a 2004 No. 1 pick by the Royals. Howell, making his first start of the season for the Devil Rays, baffled the Royals all day, striking out seven in eight innings. He dodged trouble on several occasions, and only permitted one run: a solo homer by Jason LaRue in the fifth inning.
The Devil Rays scored two more in the sixth off Elarton and Joel Peralta, and added a Carlos Pena solo home run in the eighth, providing the final margin.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.