Then, for a welcome change, the Royals benefited from a disputed call.
Kansas City scored the tiebreaking run on an eighth-inning balk by Steve Kline, and snapped a five-game losing streak with a 10-8 victory Sunday.
With the score tied 8-8, Emil Brown opened the eighth with a single off Todd Williams (3-2). After a strikeout, an errant pickoff throw and intentional walk, Kline came in and retired Joe McEwing on a grounder, leaving runners at second and third.
As Kline prepared to pitch to David DeJesus, home plate umpire Bob Davidson called a balk. Brown hadn't crossed the plate before Kline began arguing the call, to no avail.
Afterward, Davidson said Kline "moved his shoulder" to deceive the runner at third base.
"He has the last say. What can I do?" Kline said. "I wasn't even set yet. He saw something different than I did."
Kansas City manager Tony Pena agreed with Davidson.
"He balked. I saw it all the way," Pena said. "What he did, he moved his shoulders like he was going to throw to home plate."
The Royals, who had lost 14 of 16, were delighted that a call finally went their way.
"It's always something weird that usually results in us losing the game. Hopefully the tide is turning," said Mike Sweeney, who homered in the ninth. "People questioned whether Kline did balk, but we'll take the win. We don't have many of them this year, so we'll take any one we can get."
After rallying from an 8-1 deficit, the first-place Orioles lost for only the third time in 14 games on a questionable call.
"The umpire said he moved his hands. I didn't see it," Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said. "On that call, you're not going to get someone to change it."
Angel Berroa and Matt Stairs each had a home run and three RBI for the Royals, who avoided a three-game sweep.
"It's been a tremendously tough season to this point," Sweeney said. "I hope today will give us an emotional lift."
Ambiorix Burgos (1-1) pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Royals, striking out four.
The Orioles received homers from Melvin Mora, Javy Lopez and Geronimo Gil, but committed a season-high four errors.
Baltimore used a seven-run sixth to pull even at 8-all. Lopez hit a two-run homer off Mike Wood, and Jay Gibbons doubled before Jaime Cerda walked Chris Gomez. One out later, Gil hit his first homer since May 31, 2003, a three-run shot to center.
Cerda then walked Brian Roberts, and Mike MacDougal walked Luis Matos before Mora tied it with a two-run double into the left-field corner.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the seventh before Burgos struck out Gil and Roberts.
"Burgos did a great job. He was able to keep us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to come back and win," Pena said. "What a performance by this kid."
After Mora put Baltimore up 1-0 in the first inning with his seventh home run, the Royals took their initial lead of the series with a six-run fourth -- their biggest inning of the season.
Tony Graffanino reached on a throwing error by third baseman Mora, although replays appeared to show that Gomez made the tag during a collision at first. A double by Sweeney and a walk loaded the bases for Stairs, who hit a comebacker that Rodrigo Lopez fumbled before throwing to first.
Sweeney scored when Lopez threw a wild pitch on ball four to Brown, and Berroa followed with a three-run shot -- his first RBI since April 21. Mark Teahen then doubled, and DeJesus hit an RBI single.
Stairs chased Lopez with a two-run homer in the fifth.
Royals starter Brian Anderson allowed one run and three hits in two innings before leaving with a sore left elbow. ... Baltimore OF Sammy Sosa missed the entire series with a foot injury, but could return Monday, Mazzilli said. ... Graffanino left in the fourth inning with a sore right wrist, the result of his clash with Gomez. X-rays were negative. ... Cerda's run of four consecutive scoreless appearances ended.