NEW YORK -- Yordano Ventura opened the season as the No. 3 starter for the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
He acted like a No. 1 starter when the Royals needed an ace-type performance Wednesday night.
Ventura provided some much-needed rest to an overworked bullpen by grinding through six innings Wednesday, earning the win as the Royals led wire-to-wire in beating the New York Yankees 7-3 at Yankee Stadium.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Royals, whose relievers accounted for 15 innings during the skid. Five relievers combined to throw the final six innings of a 10-7 defeat Tuesday, so Ventura -- who pitched just four innings in each of his previous two starts -- knew he had to last longer Wednesday.
"That was my mentality since last night," Ventura said through an interpreter. "I was thinking about that, how I had to go deep into the game to help the bullpen out."
It wasn't a stress-free evening for Ventura, who was staked to a 4-0 lead before he took the mound via a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon and a three-run homer by Salvador Perez off Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda.
"He left a slider up in that first inning, which was really the difference," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Pineda.
Ventura used all of his margin for error in giving up three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out just one. He left the bases loaded during the Yankees' two-run second, when he received a visit to the mound from pitching coach Dave Eiland. Ventura stranded runners at third in the fourth and fifth -- when New York scored its final run -- and a runner at second in the sixth.
"He limited the damage really, really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was what we needed from him. We didn't have any long guy today, so we needed him to at least get us into the fifth. And he got us through the sixth, so it was a great job."
Yost said he was going to pull Ventura if two runners reached base in the sixth, when left-hander Danny Duffy began warming. However, once Ventura escaped the sixth, Yost was able to go with Duffy and Kelvin Herrera -- each of whom threw an inning Tuesday -- in the seventh and eighth, respectively, before closer Wade Davis threw the ninth in a non-save situation.
"The way things have gone lately, we needed to do anything we could to try to win this game," Yost said.
The Royals added insurance runs in the sixth, when Lorenzo Cain laced a two-out, two-run single, and the seventh, when Kendrys Morales hit a leadoff homer.
"When you score three or four in the first inning, that's cool, that's nice, but you've got to be able to tack on somewhere over the course of that game," Yost said.
Eric Hosmer had two hits for the Royals (16-17), who scored 14 runs and collected 28 hits during their three-game losing streak.
"Feel like as a team we're swinging the bats the last few days really well," said Cain, who hit three homers in Tuesday's loss. "Just got to keep swinging the bats as best we can. Hopefully start winning some ballgames consistently."
Beltran missed his 400th homer by inches in the eighth, when he doubled off the top of the wall in right field. Aaron Hicks went 3-for-4 and is batting .444 (8-for-18) over his last six games for the Yankees (13-19), who are 4-2 on a 10-game homestand that ends Sunday.
Pineda took the loss after allowing six runs on six hits and four walks while striking out seven over 5 2/3 innings. He threw a career-high 114 pitches.
"He probably tired a little bit at the end," Girardi said. "But you take the first inning away and he pitched pretty good."
NOTES: Royals manager Ned Yost said after the game that RHP Kris Medlen, who has given up 13 runs in his past two starts, will be examined Thursday after complaining of shoulder soreness. Medlen remains scheduled to start Sunday but could be replaced by LHP Danny Duffy or LHP Brian Flynn. ... Yost also said RHP Chris Young was diagnosed with a muscle strain in his forearm. Young, who has a 6.68 ERA in seven starts, was pulled from the rotation earlier this week in favor of RHP Dillon Gee. ... Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury (right hip strain) missed his fifth consecutive start. Manager Joe Girardi said he hopes Ellsbury can avoid the disabled list and play this weekend. ... Girardi also said he expected DH Alex Rodriguez (right hamstring strain) and LHP CC Sabathia (left groin strain) to return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as they are eligible. Rodriguez went on the DL on May 4, while Sabathia's stint began May 5.