HOUSTON — Kansas City's Joe Blanton didn't walk anyone in his first two starts this season.
Things were a lot different on Monday night, and it helped the Houston Astros to a 6-1 win.
In a matchup of teams with the best records in the American League, Houston snapped Kansas City's four-game winning streak. The Royals are 44-29 and the Astros are 45-34.
The Astros jumped on Blanton (2-1) for five runs in the first three innings and Carter added a solo home run in the fifth to help them to the win.
Blanton struggled with control, walking four and giving up five runs and five hits in just 2 2-3 innings. It was his first loss since Aug. 20, 2013. He was out of baseball in 2014 and started this season 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA after being called up from Triple-A Omaha.
"I take pride in not walking guys," Blanton said. "I can't think of too many games where I walked that many guys. You throw some borderline pitches that don't go your way. You throw some chase pitches that they don't swing at. Other than that, trying to fight command issues makes it that kind of day."
McCullers (4-2) allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in seven innings in his ninth major league start.
He held the Royals scoreless until a solo homer by Salvador Perez cut the lead to 6-1 in the seventh inning.
He retired nine in a row after a single by Alex Gordon to start the second inning. Rios singled to start the fifth, but McCullers still faced the minimum in that inning after Christian Colon grounded into a double play.
Jarrod Dyson drew a walk to start the sixth but he set down the next three batters to end the inning.
"He had a really good breaking ball. ... It had good break on it," Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain said. "It definitely kept us off balance all night."
Luis Valbuena singled with no outs in the second before Blanton walked Jon Singleton and Preston Tucker with one out to load the bases. A third consecutive walk, this one by Domingo Santana, made it 1-0.
Altuve led off the second with a homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field to make it 3-0.
Valbuena singled with one out before Singleton drew a two-out walk. A bloop single by Tucker scored Valbuena and a single by Santana drove in another run to make it 5-0 and chase Blanton.
"He wasn't missing by much, but when he tried to make an adjustment back, he would miss out, miss out," manager Ned Yost said. "He would try to make an adjustment back to the corner and catch too much of the plate."
Carter added a solo homer off of Brandon Finnegan in the fifth inning to snap an 0-for-7 slump.
Singleton doubled in the eighth inning for his first hit since being called up from Triple-A Fresno on Friday.
Royals: Escobar was scratched Monday with a bruise on his index finger. ... Hosmer was out with a sprained left ring finger and Yost said he probably won't play during this series, which ends on Wednesday. Hosmer was injured on Saturday and left Sunday's game early with the problem. He had improved on Monday and the swelling in his finger was subsiding.
Astros: OF Colby Rasmus was for the third straight game because of a skin infection on his left arm caused by a bug bite. Manager A.J. Hinch said Rasmus received intravenous antibiotics on Monday to try to eliminate the infection. He is day to day. ... OF Jake Marisnick, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, is improving and could start a rehabilitation assignment soon. ... RHP Scott Feldman (arthroscopic knee surgery) will throw a simulated game in Houston on Tuesday.
Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (9-3) opposes Danny Duffy (2-3) when the series continues on Tuesday. Keuchel, who is second in the AL with a 2.17 ERA, threw his third complete game of the season in his last start, a 4-0 win over the Yankees on Thursday.