KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Johnny Cueto fluctuated between ghastly and grand in his first three postseason starts, but he was dominant Wednesday night.
After an off day, the series switches to New York on Friday for Game 3.
"(We) go there for three games, but everybody in this room don't want to play three games, only two," said Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who had two hits and drove in two runs in Game 2. "For me, I don't want it coming back here. I want to finish it there."
Cueto, who was acquired in a July 26 trade with the Cincinnati Reds to be the ace the Royals were missing, was roughed up for eight runs while retiring only six Blue Jays in an American League Championship Series loss at Toronto on Oct. 19. That was Cueto at his worse.
Cueto, however, was at his best against the Mets, allowing only two singles by Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, and one did not leave the infield. The veteran right-hander, who retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, walked three and struck out four. He threw 122 pitches.
"That's what they brought me here for was to help win a World Series," Cueto said.
The 40,410 fans in Kauffman Stadium were standing and serenading Cueto as he came out for the ninth inning, and they were screaming his name as the game ended.
"I feel great when I hear our fans, just supporting me and backing me in these types of situations," Cueto said after becoming the first pitcher to throw a World Series complete-game two-hitter since the Atlanta Braves' Greg Maddux in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians.
In his last two Kauffman Stadium starts, Cueto has allowed four hits and three runs in 17 innings while beating the Houston Astros and the Mets.
"It wasn't fun tonight," Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy said of facing Cueto. "He threw the ball well. He mixes deliveries well. He used that cutter well, and he had good feel for the changeup. It's the whole package."
Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer backed Cueto by driving in two runs, bringing his RBI total to a postseason-leading 15. He has 27 RBIs in 28 career postseason games.
"I just try and get something good early to hit and not miss it," Hosmer said. "With these (Mets pitchers), with the stuff that they're featuring on the mound, you can't afford to get in a hole."
Escobar continues to be a hit machine, hitting safely in 12 consecutive playoff games, and his 20 hits are the most in the majors this postseason.
The Royals batted around in a four-run fifth, scoring four runs -- three of them with two outs -- to take a 4-1 lead.
Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom retired the next two batters before Hosmer drilled a two-run single to center.
Hosmer moved to third on designated hitter Kendrys Morales' single and scored on third baseman Mike Moustakas' single to right.
"I just wasn't able to make the pitch when I needed to there in the fifth inning," deGrom said. "We knew that (they were relentless) going into the game. I think we said it before: They don't swing and miss. They put the ball in play. They did a good job of doing that tonight."
DeGrom, who was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his first three postseason starts, labored through 38 pitches in the fifth and was pulled after five innings with his pitch count up to 94. He allowed four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two. He was replaced by Hansel Robles in the sixth.
Two walks and a double play that was not turned helped the Mets score their lone run in the fourth. Cueto walked right fielder Curtis Granderson to lead off the inning and Murphy with one out.
Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder to Moustakas, who stepped on third to force out Granderson, but his throw to first pulled Hosmer's foot off the bag, allowing Cespedes to reach.
Duda made the Royals pay by slicing a single to left, scoring Murphy from second base.
The Royals padded their lead in the eighth with three runs off three Mets relievers. The inning included Gordon's run-producing double, an Escobar RBI triple and a Paulo Orlando sacrifice fly.
This night, however, belonged to Cueto.
"We've seen this before, not just in Game 5 of the ALDS, but we've seen him earlier against Detroit and Anaheim and a couple of other teams," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "He was really good. It's not like something like this is surprising. We've seen him do it with us. We've seen him doing it the last three, four, five years or however long it's been.
"This is exactly why we got him, to pitch games like this for us."
NOTES: RHP Edinson Volquez returned to the Dominican Republic after the death of his father Tuesday. "I expect Eddie to be there ready to go for Game 5 (if necessary)," Royals manager Ned Yost said. ... Reports surfaced that Royals C Salvador Perez had pine tar on his shin guards, but it was not an issue for Mets manager Terry Collins, who acknowledged New York C Travis d'Arnaud also "probably does" use pine tar. ... Royals relievers allowed one unearned run, five hits and struck out 12 in eight innings in Game 1. "Their bullpen is really good; good as advertised," Mets 3B David Wright said. "They make a lot of really good hitters look foolish." ... Mets CF Juan Lagares, who had two hits off the bench Tuesday, started Game 2. ... Royals RHP Yordano Ventura and Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard are the probables for Game 3 on Friday in New York.