KANSAS CITY -- This year's I-70 race goes to the St. Louis Cardinals. Playing next to the Interstate highway at home, Kansas City's tires went flat.
The Cardinals took the checkered flag, completing a three-game sweep with an 11-8 victory over the Royals on Sunday as 29,063 sun-baked fans witnessed a back-and-forth battle at Kauffman Stadium. St. Louis took the season series between the Show-Me State rivals, four games to two.
"It's the I-70 Series, that's what baseball is about," the Royals' Mike Moustakas said. "They've got great fans over there, we've got great fans here and it was nice to see everybody out and about."
The wrap-up game was something of a home run derby, won by the Royals, four to two. Moustakas pounded two homers to drive in three runs, Jeff Francoeur had a solo shot and Billy Butler cranked a drive for the Royals' last two runs.
"The offense swung the bats much better today. We finally hit some balls out of the ballpark today," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Even so, the Cardinals had much more offense in the three-game sweep, outscoring the Royals, 30-14, and they got the party started early on Sunday.
On the eighth anniversary of his trade to the Houston Astros, Carlos Beltran reminded the Royals and their fans what they've been missing all those years.
In the first inning of the 99-degree afternoon, Beltran lifted a soaring three-run homer into the left-field bullpen to get the Cardinals off to a hot start. It was Beltran's 20th homer of the season and followed Allen Craig's double and Matt Holliday's walk.
Ironically, the homer came on an 0-2 pitch from Beltran's teammate last year with the San Francisco Giants and Puerto Rican countryman Jonathan Sanchez. It gave Beltran eight RBIs in the three games, the first time he's played at The K since being dealt on June 24, 2004.
"Every time you contribute, every time you are capable of hitting a homer or a hit, or you help the team score runs, it's always fun," Beltran said. "It's been eight years since I got traded from Kansas City. It was good for me to be back. I got the opportunity to see some friends here that I hadn't seen for eight years. Earlier today, George Brett came to the clubhouse looking for me, so that was pretty special for me. We talked about the years that we were here. I do appreciate all the time I spent with him, because he's a Hall of Famer, and at the same time, the guy knows a lot about the game of baseball."
Brett has shared some of that knowledge with Moustakas, who countered Beltran's blast with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. It was a monster shot of an estimated 442 feet, landing about four rows under the Rivals restaurant in right field.
Moustakas also led off the Royals' three-run fourth inning against right-hander Lance Lynn with a homer into the right-field bullpen and Francoeur followed his lead with a homer into the left-field bullpen. That was a relief for Frenchy, because it broke a 0-for-16 swoon and was his first homer since May 27.
For Moustakas, it meant success in just his second turn at batting third in the lineup this season.
"It was fun getting back in the three-hole, I've haven't been there in a while, so it was good to finally get back in the spot," Moustakas said. "I just got some good pitches to hit today and I didn't miss 'em."
Later in that inning, Brayan Pena's single and Jarrod Dyson's triple forged a 5-5 tie. However, Yadier Molina's leadoff homer in the sixth put the Cardinals ahead of Sanchez, 6-5. That Sanchez made it through 5 2/3 innings was a surprise because he'd given up five runs and used 63 pitches in the first two innings.
"I went there with the same plan I have every day, the first two innings just didn't work out. The next three just kind of went my way," Sanchez said.
Trouble was, along with four extra-base hits, Sanchez issued six walks and three of those runners scored. In all, Royals pitchers handed out nine walks, including two that were intentional, resulting in six runs.
"The Cardinals did a nice job in this series, and today's game, of taking advantage of walks and finding holes," Yost said.
That included the seventh inning, when the Cardinals snapped a 6-6 tie as Holliday walked, stole second easily on left-hander Tim Collins' high leg kick, and scored on David Freese's single to left. Freese was out trying for second to end the inning, but the damage was done. St. Louis applied the clincher with four runs in the eighth.
"This is one of those days when we had the offense going, but we couldn't keep the runs down. But that's what's been happening," Butler said. "This was a tough series, man. They came out swinging the bats and had a good series offensively."
Holliday finished this series 8-for-12 with four walks, five runs and four RBIs. In his six games against KC this year, Beltran was 11-for-29 (.379) and left town leading the National League with 56 RBIs and tied for the home run lead with 20.
"Holliday has been as hot as I've seen anybody, he's hitting the ball well," Butler said. "Beltran's got a great swing, he's having a great year. There's a reason why he is who he is -- he's a dynamic player."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.