ST. LOUIS — John Lackey wore a Cardinals 1985 World Series T-shirt as a 6-year-old growing up in Abilene, Texas, courtesy of an aunt then living in St. Louis.
The 36-year-old right-hander was a Rangers fan back then, but had no trouble adding the Cardinals to his short list of favorites. No doubt, he enjoyed beating the Kansas City Royals wearing a throwback uniform the teams wore in the I-70 Series.
"I have a picture of me in a World Series '85 T-shirt," Lackey said after the Cardinals won 4-3 Thursday night. "I'm kind of an old-school guy.
"I like the old uniforms — they're sweet. They're a little bit hotter than the ones we have now, that's about the only thing."
Lackey threw seven strong innings after a shaky beginning and Trevor Rosenthal escaped his own jam in the ninth as the Cardinals won in the makeup of a rainout last month. Randal Grichuk and Matt Carpenter hit two-run homers.
"You try to stay out of those situations," Rosenthal said after pitching for the third straight day. "When we don't think too far ahead, I think that's when we all have our best stuff."
As in the originally scheduled game, St. Louis and Kansas City led their league in wins and Lackey (9-5) and Chris Young (8-6) were the scheduled starters.
Rosenthal took over to begin the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Alex Rios led off with a single and Omar Infante followed with a triple.
The Royals went on to put runners on second and third with no outs and twice baserunners were allowed to take second without a throw before Rosenthal held on for his 30th save in 32 chances. Mike Moustakas grounded out to end it.
"That's a controversial philosophy," manager Mike Matheny said. "Mine was I wanted to win it with my closer right now."
Royals manager Ned Yost couldn't deny his surprise.
"Anytime you're going to let the winning run waltz to second base ..." Yost said. "They've got a lot of confidence in their closer. It shows you how good he is."
The paid attendance of 46,003 was the 24th sellout for St. Louis, which took the season series 4-2, but there were several thousand no-shows for the opener of an elongated 11-game homestand.
Salvador Perez and Alex Rios had consecutive RBI singles in the first for the Royals, but they managed just two more hits in Lackey's final six innings. The 36-year-old right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last eight starts, working seven or more innings in all but one of them.
"That's my whole career," Lackey said. "I get deep in games, that's why I'm still doing it."
Carpenter's 10th homer, and just his second in two months, put the Cardinals ahead 4-2 in the third. Grichuk, who also singled and flied out to the wall in right, has a team-leading 13 RBIs this month.
The Cardinals are 61-34 overall and 34-12 at Busch Stadium, both major league bests.
Young gave up four runs in three innings, his shortest outing since he allowed five runs while getting just two outs for Seattle last Sept. 1 at Oakland.
"It just wasn't good enough. Made some bad pitches and they both got hit out of the park," Young said.
Royals: Young has been hindered by back tightness and is 1-3 in his last five starts.
Cardinals: Jaime Garcia threw five hitless innings in his first rehab start for Class A Peoria, the only blemish on his line a hit batter. ... Rookie 1B Stephen Piscotty was a pregame lineup scratch with neck stiffness.
Royals: Jeremy Guthrie (7-5, 5.36) faces the Astros to open a three-game series at home. He's 20-12 with a 3.68 ERA post-break the last four seasons.
Cardinals: Rookie Tim Cooney (0-0, 3.33) faces the Braves, making his sixth career start in search of a first decision. The lefty threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings his last time out, an 18-inning loss to the Mets on Sunday.