KANSAS CITY -- Zack Greinke couldn't keep his doggone spikes clean. That Missouri mud wouldn't leave him alone. He had to keep scraping his shoes on that rubber spike cleaner on the back of the mound.
The Royals' lumber wouldn't leave him alone either on Monday night. It kept spanking him, from the time Salvador Perez unloaded a long home run in the second inning.
Greinke's third return to Kauffman Stadium since being traded by the Royals after the 2010 season -- this time wearing Dodger Blue -- was not a happy occasion. He was banged around for 11 hits and all five runs in a 5-3 loss to his old team in his old ballpark.
Even after he'd given up five runs to the Royals, their fans booed Greinke, which perplexed him. The first two times he returned in a different uniform -- with the Brewers and the Angels, both in the 2012 season -- he gave up just one run each time.
"It's weird," he said. "I pitched good the last time I was here and they cheered. I pitched good the first time and they cheered. This time they cheered when they announced my name and when I gave up the runs, they booed."
Greinke was asked if Kansas City fans might be conflicted in their feelings.
"I'm not a psychologist," he said with a slight grin.
As the evening unfolded, Greinke was classic Zack -- stoic, little show of emotion. Perez belted a homer and he just stared in from the mound -- not even a peek at the replay on the scoreboard. A little later, Alcides Escobar lined a single past the leaping Greinke's glove. Jarrod Dyson singled to make it 2-0. Things never did look any better for a 10th victory, which would have tied him for the National League lead.
His spikes kept getting clogged and the Royals kept getting hits.
"I think I'm going to have to switch shoes because it's been giving me trouble pretty much all year. But I was pitching good so I stayed with 'em," Greinke said. "Now that I'm not pitching good, I might as well switch."
His evening ended in the sixth after Dyson got his third hit, another RBI single.
Art Stewart, the Royals' legendary scout, had an epitaph for this game.
"Our 50th-rounder beat up on our first-rounder," he said.
Yep, Dyson was drafted in the 50th and last round of 2006 by the Royals. They took Greinke in the first round of 2002.
Greinke left Kansas City one year after his Cy Young Award season of 2009, convinced the Royals weren't going anywhere very fast. The winter 2010 trade with the Brewers brought Lorenzo Cain and Escobar, who combined for four hits and two RBIs off Greinke on Monday night.
"The guys that got traded for me are playing good and I think even the [Jake] Odorizzi guy is pitching good, too," Greinke said. "He's not here anymore, but it looks like they got some good players."
Greinke admitted to being "rude" at the time of his departure.
"I didn't want to be rude," he said. "I felt I had to in order to be traded. I've said all this dozens of times in the past. They're playing good now. You knew it was going to take time, and now's the time it seems like."
He had just found that out firsthand.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.