PITTSBURGH — Erik Bedard pitched seven solid innings, Neil Walker had three hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Friday night for their 10th victory in the last 13 games.
Bedard (4-6) allowed two runs and five hits as Pittsburgh captured the opening game of a series for the sixth consecutive time. The Pirates (30-27) also moved three games over .500 for the first time this season.
Jason Grilli worked a perfect eighth and Joel Hanrahan retired the side in order in the ninth for his 16th save in 18 opportunities.
Yuniesky Betancourt drove in a run and scored for the Royals, who have lost four of six.
Playing its first interleague road game, Kansas City had three players out of position. Regular designated hitter Billy Butler, who leads the team with 11 homers, made his third start at first base. First baseman Eric Hosmer was in right field and Jeff Francoeur moved from right to center.
Francoeur had three prior innings of experience in center, and Hosmer had never played right in the majors. All that shuffling had an effect on the game, too.
Hosmer misplayed Rod Barajas' leadoff single in the second, allowing the lumbering catcher to move up a base. He later scored on Clint Barmes' single, touching home with a nifty slide after left fielder Alex Gordon made a strong throw.
Butler was involved in a Pittsburgh run an inning later when Luke Hochevar (3-7) picked off Jose Tabata attempting to steal. Butler and second baseman Betancourt got Tabata into a rundown, but lost track of Pedro Alvarez, who scored from third to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead.
Garrett Jones doubled in Walker in the first, and Walker's infield hit drove in Barmes to make it 3-0 in the second.
Betancourt hit an RBI double in the third and scored on Mike Moustakas' base hit to get the Royals within one.
Hochevar (3-7) remained winless in his past six outings, allowing four runs and nine hits in six innings.