Lopez slaps game-winning hit after rain delay

ST. LOUIS — When Sunday’s game finally resumed after a two-hour rain delay, it took approximately six minutes for the Royals to retake the lead.

Nicky Lopez poked an RBI single into right field and Richard Lovelady earned the save in the ninth to send the Royals to a 6-5 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, avoiding a series sweep at the hands of the cross-state rivals and ending a nine-game, three-city road trip with a 3-6 record.

Sunday’s game involved a commanding Royals lead before the bullpen coughed up four runs — one charged to reliever Jake Brentz and three to Greg Holland — to allow the Cardinals to tie it, 5-5, in the eighth with dark clouds looming. The Royals were able to get two runners on base against Cardinals closer Alex Reyes in the ninth inning with Hanser Alberto’s single and Jarrod Dyson’s fielder’s choice that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt threw into center field for an error.

Then the skies opened up, and a torrential downpour and lightning show followed.

A two hour, 10 minute delay didn’t slow the Royals down when they returned, as they jumped on Reyes quickly again in the top of the ninth.

The Royals had a 5-1 lead because of five runs off lefty Jon Lester, while Kansas City starter Kris Bubic battled through 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one run despite finding himself in multiple jams and walking four. In the fourth inning, the left-hander walked the first two batters he faced and hit another to load the bases with no outs and the threat of the Cardinals lineup turning over if he wasn’t able to get out of the jam.

On the 10th pitch to Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner, Bubic threw a changeup that Knizner chopped back to the mound. Bubic fielded the ball and flipped it to Salvador Perez on the plate, and Perez made a smooth transfer and throw to first for the double play.