KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ian Kennedy dominated. Kelvin Herrera did not.
That unexpected role reversal was just the latest equation to result in another Kansas City Royals defeat.
Herrera, who entered Tuesday's series opener against the Cincinnati Reds with a 0.73 ERA, blew a save opportunity in the Royals' eventual 5-1 defeat in 10 innings at Kauffman Stadium. Kennedy, who entered with a 5.76 ERA, allowed only three hits across eight scoreless innings, handing the Royals' closer a 1-0 advantage in the ninth.
Tucker Barnhart evened the score at 1-all with a home run into the right field off a Herrera changeup, and Joey Votto hit a go-ahead bases-clearing triple off Kevin McCarthy (4-3) in the Reds' four-run 10th inning.
Herrera, who also issued just his first and second walks of the season, was briefly checked on by Royals manager Ned Yost and a team trainer before finishing off the inning. He threw a season-high 31 pitches.
"Salvy (Perez) thought there was something, there was an issue with him, so we went out to check it," Yost said. "The issue was the ball was just very slick. He just was having a hard time getting a grip on the ball. That was his issue. He feels great. He was just really struggling. His hand, I guess, was sweating. He just struggled to get a grip on it."
David Hernandez (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the victory for Cincinnati in the battle of two of MLB's worst teams — the Reds moved to 24-43 with the victory, while the Royals fell to 22-45.
Hunter Dozier's solo home run in the fifth inning gave the Royals their lone run, but the team finished with just four hits against Sal Romano in the Reds starter's eight innings. Romano entered with a 6.23 ERA but shut the Royals down in an effort that tied for the most innings pitched in his career.
The outing was also the longest of the season for Kennedy, who needed 99 pitches to get through five innings in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels. He needed just 104 to get through eight innings Tuesday.
"I thought he was fantastic," Yost said. "I mean, eight strong, scoreless innings, three hits? Just was fantastic. He had everything going."
Jason Hammel (5.24 ERA) will start for the Royals in Game 2 of the series at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, opposed by the Reds' Tyler Mahle (4.33 ERA).