SAN DIEGO (AP) - Despite being 13 games under .500, the Kansas City Royals at least make things interesting.
Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run homer, Mat Latos won for the first time in four starts and the San Diego Padres beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Monday night.
The Padres, coming off consecutive series victories against Boston and Atlanta, have won five of six. The Royals have lost seven of nine.
Latos (5-8) allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two to win for the first time since June 5 against Houston. Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 22 chances, getting the final out after allowing consecutive two-out singles.
"We're to the point where we can make a game interesting," manager Ned Yost said. "But we have to get over that hump and make them start to count a little bit. We're always one hit away. There will be a time when we get that one hit, but we're struggling to o it right now."
The Padres continued their domination of Jeff Francis (3-9), who allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in five innings.
Francis dropped to 5-13 with a 5.65 ERA in 22 career starts against San Diego. The former Colorado Rockies pitcher is winless in his last six starts against San Diego. At Petco Park, he's 3-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 12 starts.
Overall, Francis has lost three straight starts and four of five.
With Chase Headley aboard on a double, Ludwick homered to left with two outs in the first, his 10th.
Kansas City's Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly in the third and Latos helped himself in the bottom of the inning when he hit a leadoff double and eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 lead. The inning ended when catcher Brayan Pena held onto the ball after being run over by Headley, who was trying to score on Ludwick's double to left.
"If we continue to play like that, things will turn around for us," Pena said. "It's always something. I hope that that little thing will turn it around for us. It's for us to try and figure out and turn our luck around."
The Padres took a 4-1 lead in the fourth when Jesus Guzman reached on a throwing error by shortstop Alcides Escobar and eventually scored on a throwing error by first baseman Hosmer, who was trying to throw him out at third after Orlando Hudson's groundout.
The Royals have thrown out 16 runners at the plate, including four in the last five games.
The Royals pulled to 4-3 with one out in the sixth on Pena's two-run double down the right-field line to score Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur, who opened the inning with singles. Pena took third on Escobar's fly to right but was stranded when second baseman Hudson made a nice play to throw out pinch-hitter Billy Butler and end the inning.
Gordon extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
NOTES: Francis is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA in eight road starts. ... Yost said the Royals plan to go with a six-man rotation at least until the All-Star break. Kyle Davies is ready to come off the disabled list and rookie Danny Duffy is pitching well enough that the Royals don't want to send him down to the minors.