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Baltimore at Kansas City

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Royals hold off Orioles this time, salvage series finale

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just a few weeks after compiling an 8.31 ERA for Class-A High Desert, Leo Nunez found himself facing two of the toughest hitters in the American League -- with runners at second and third.

Completely poised, the 21-year-old Nunez first struck out Melvin Mora, who hit two home runs the night before. Then he coaxed a harmless fly ball out of Miguel Tejada, who had 150 RBI last year and was on an 11-game hitting streak.

A short time later, after Nunez pitched 2 2/3 innings of one-hit relief Thursday, the Kansas City Royals had a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles and their seemingly fearless rookie had his first major league win.

"He made me look real smart," interim manager Bob Schaefer said. "He was awesome."

Emil Brown hit a three-run homer and Angel Berroa added a solo shot in the third for a 6-0 lead that hardly seemed insurmountable because the Orioles had rallied from deficits of six, seven and three runs in their three previous games against Kansas City.

They immediately scored four in the fourth against Runelvys Hernandez. In came Nunez (1-0), who was obtained last winter from Pittsburgh in the Benito Santiago deal and brought up from Double-A Wichita on May 9.

He did not try to be cute, going right after Mora and Tejada.

"He says he feels great because (Schaefer) believes in him," Nunez said through a translator, teammate Jose Lima. "It feels great to go up there and face the best hitters.

"He says it feels great, facing one of the best teams in the American League now. Now he's going to go home and call his family and tell them it was a sweet one."

The Royals (12-29) improved to 4-4 under Schaefer, who took over for Tony Pena on May 11. But they still have the worst record in club history after 41 games.

The Orioles, who had won six in a row at Kauffman Stadium, still have the AL's best road record at 13-5 after finishing a seven-game road trip to Chicago and Kansas City 4-3.

"We were in the game. We had our chances," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "Guys at second and third and one out, but we couldn't do it. He threw the ball well."

In another good sign for the long-faltering Kansas City bullpen, Mike MacDougal struck out all three batters in the ninth for his second save.

Rodrigo Lopez (2-2) went seven innings and was charged with six runs and five hits. He took the loss after four straight no-decisions.

"I was leaving the ball up a little bit, making mistakes on the pitches I gave up the home runs," Lopez said. "Then I started getting the ball down, pitching my game and was able to go deep into the game.

"Their bullpen did a great job. They shut us down after the fourth."

Hernandez went 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and five hits. He walked six and struck out one.

Matt Diaz's triple drove in the Royals' first run in the second. Alberto Castillo made it 2-0 with an RBI single.

Berroa homered leading off the third. Mike Sweeney singled, Matt Stairs walked and Brown hit his fifth home run, putting the Royals on top 6-0.

But just as they did the night before while wiping out a 3-0 deficit, the Orioles bounced back for four runs in the fourth.

After Rafael Palmeiro walked and Javy Lopez doubled, Jay Gibbons hit a liner to right that got away from Brown and went for a two-run triple. One out later, Larry Bigbie hit a high fly to center that Terrence Long lost in the sun. The ball dropped in for an RBI double and the lead was cut to 6-3.

David Newhan's RBI double made it 6-4, but that was it.

"Leo was outstanding," Schaefer said. "He throws strikes, he changes speeds, tremendous fastball. But the big thing about him is he can locate and he can change speeds. He threw some good changeups."

The Royals loaded the bases in the eighth against Steve Reed on two walks and a hit batter. Reed then walked Castillo, forcing home a run.

Notes

  • The Royals have taken the lead in nine straight games and 16 of their last 18.
  • The Royals begin interleague play Friday against St. Louis and will try to break an eight-game losing streak against NL teams.
  • Palmeiro reached base in 10 of 14 plate appearances in the three-game series.
  • Baltimore's Brian Roberts extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Angel Berroa enjoys his third-inning home run with next batter Terrence Long.  (AP)
Angel Berroa enjoys his third-inning home run with next batter Terrence Long. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

E. Brown
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Baltimore

J. Gibbons
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Baltimore Orioles
Brian Roberts, 2B3010210 .372
David Newhan, LF4011121 .204
Melvin Mora, 3B3000123 .289
Miguel Tejada, SS4000006 .321
Rafael Palmeiro, 1B2100210 .252
Javy Lopez, DH4120011 .289
Jay Gibbons, RF4112002 .286
Larry Bigbie, CF4111001 .247
Geronimo Gil, C3000001 .182
   a- Jeff Fiorentino, PH1000010 .300
Totals324646815 
a-struck out for Gil in the 9th
Batting
2B - Brian Roberts (8, Ru. Hernandez), David Newhan (2, Ru. Hernandez), Javy Lopez (12, Ru. Hernandez), Larry Bigbie (7, Ru. Hernandez)
3B - Jay Gibbons (2, Ru. Hernandez)
RBI - David Newhan (6), Jay Gibbons 2 (22), Larry Bigbie (9)
Team LOB - 7
Baltimore Orioles
Rodrigo Lopez (L,2-2) 7566332 4.88
Steve Reed 1011310 5.74
HBP - Diaz (by Steve Reed)
Pitches-Strikes - Rodrigo Lopez 96-63, Steve Reed 29-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rodrigo Lopez 7-11
Batters Faced - Rodrigo Lopez 29, Steve Reed 7
Kansas City Royals
Angel Berroa, SS4111000 .245
Terrence Long, CF-LF4000000 .206
Mike Sweeney, 1B3110100 .326
Matt Stairs, DH1200311 .267
    Eli Marrero, PR-DH0100000 .179
Emil Brown, RF4113013 .220
Matt Diaz, LF3111000 .276
    Mark Teahen, 3B0000000 .262
Ruben Gotay, 2B3001110 .211
Alberto Castillo, C3011100 .200
Joe McEwing, 3B-CF4000014 .300
Totals29757648 
Batting
3B - Matt Diaz (1, Lopez)
HR - Angel Berroa (5, Lopez), Emil Brown (5, Lopez)
RBI - Angel Berroa (13), Emil Brown 3 (15), Matt Diaz (4), Ruben Gotay (12), Alberto Castillo (6)
2-OUT RBI - Alberto Castillo (2)
SB - Mike Sweeney (2, 3rd base off Lopez/Gil), Matt Stairs (1, 2nd base off Lopez/Gil)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Sweeney
Kansas City Royals
Runelvys Hernandez 3.1544610 5.17
Leo Nunez (W,1-0) 2.2100020 1.69
Jaime Cerda (H,3) 2000020 5.29
Mike MacDougal (S,2) 1000030 4.50
Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 74-37, Leo Nunez 27-19, Jaime Cerda 17-12, Mike MacDougal 11-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 4-4, Leo Nunez 1-5, Jaime Cerda 2-2
Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 20, Leo Nunez 9, Jaime Cerda 6, Mike MacDougal 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25419
Game Time - 2:29
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Larry Poncino