KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals won a game, but might have lost a starting pitcher.
Jarrod Dyson singled home two runs in the eighth inning as Kansas City downed the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 Tuesday night, but Royals starter Jason Vargas exited in the second inning with an elbow injury.
"It died a soldier, man," Dyson said. "It's gone to bat heaven, man. I'll take it."
Shortstop Alcides Escobar singled home Dyson for the final run.
Wade Davis (6-1), the fifth of six Kansas City pitchers, picked up the victory. Greg Holland gave up four hits and a walk in the ninth, but picked up his 21st save.
Left fielder Starling Marte led off the ninth with a single, but was thrown out at the plate when he attempted to score on shortstop Jung Ho Kang's double to center.
Pinch hitter Travis Ishikawa delivered a RBI-pinch single with two out in the ninth to score Kang for the only Pirates run. Holland struck out right fielder Gregory Polanco with the bases loaded to end the game.
The Pirates threatened in the eighth when first baseman Sean Rodriguez snapped an 0-for-16 drought with a one-out single and Polanco walked. After second baseman Neil Walker flied out to left, Davis replaced Herrera and struck out center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Vargas, who was making his first start since June 8 before going on the disabled list with a left flexor strain, could be going back on the disabled list.
Vargas spun around on the mound and grimaced in pain after throwing a ball to third baseman Brent Morel in the second inning. After a visit from manager Ned Yost, pitching coach Dave Eiland and trainer Nick Kenney, Vargas was removed without even attempting a warmup toss.
"The work (to get back) isn't the frustrating part, but being able to compete and go out there with your teammates and contribute and be a part of what's going on," Vargas said.
The preliminary diagnosis was left medial elbow pain. He will have an MRI on Wednesday.
"I didn't feel anything pop," Vargas said. "It was pain. I don't know if I could describe the exact feelings I had, but it was discomfort to cause me to feel like I definitely wasn't going to be able to make any more pitches and be competitive."
Right-hander Joe Blanton replaced Vargas and struck out the first four Pirates he faced.
The Pirates thought they had a run in the second. Marte led off the inning with an apparent homer to left, which landed in the Royals' bullpen. After a 3-minute, 19-second crew chief review, the ruling on the field was overturned. It was determined that the ball struck below the top of the outfield wall and bounced over another wall for a ground-rule double.
Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole limited the Royals to three hits and no runs in the first five innings, but took the loss after his defense let him down late. He finished by allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits while striking out six.
"It shattered his bat," Cole said of Dyson's two-run single. "But he was able to get it over the infield. That's one of those situations where you just have to tip your cap."
Ryan Madson replaced Blanton to start the sixth. Blanton threw 55 pitches in 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two singles, walking none and striking out five.
"I'm not so sure they got to Cole, to be quite frank with you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We got in our way in the eighth inning. We got in our way on three consecutive plays. We could have taken better care of the ball that could have resulted in a much different situation. Cole pitched an outstanding game."
NOTES: The Royals optioned RHP Yordano Ventura to Triple-A Omaha after he was torched for six runs on 10 hits and a walk in four-plus innings Monday in a loss to the Pirates. Royals manager Ned Yost said "going down and having success will help him in the long run." ... Pirates C Francisco Cervelli had a bruised right wrist and was not in the lineup. Chris Stewart replaced him in the starting lineup. Manager Clint Hurdle said Cervelli was available only for an emergency. ... The Pirates are 7-3 in RHP Charlie Morton's 10 starts. He will start the series finale Wednesday at Kansas City. The Royals will start RHP Edinson Volquez, who went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA last year with the Pirates. ... Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano, who missed his Saturday start with a stiff neck, threw a side session Tuesday with no problems. He is scheduled to start Thursday against Washington.