Royals 11, Orioles 7
Whatever the reason, the Kansas City Royals put their hitting woes behind them during an uplifting weekend in Baltimore.
Sweeney went 4-for-6 with two homers and three RBIs, keying a 17-hit attack that carried Kansas City to an 11-7 victory Sunday.
The Royals were coming off three straight shutout losses when they arrived at Camden Yards on Friday, but they scored 20 runs in three games against the last-place Orioles.
Their 11 runs Sunday were the most in one game since a 15-5 victory over Cleveland on April 20.
“It feels nice to score a couple of runs. We haven’t been playing good at all the last two or three weeks,” Sweeney said. “For us to come out and take two of three from Baltimore is huge. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into the second half.”
The resurgence of the Royals’ offense could be attributed heavily to the return of Sweeney, who went 8-for-15 with three homers and eight RBIs in the series after missing the previous six games with a stiff back.
“He’s come back strong after the injury,” manager Tony Pena said. “He’s swinging the bat the best he has this year.”
Despite winning its first series since June 22-24 against Detroit, Kansas City reached the All-Star break with the fewest wins (31) and lowest winning percentage (.365) in franchise history.
But this was not a day to reflect on the negative.
“It’s a great way to the finish up the first half,” winning pitcher Jimmy Gobble said. “We come back with a homestand. Hopefully we can get on a roll and go from there.”
Gobble (5-6) pitched six innings of six-hit ball for the Royals, who have lost 14 of 17. All three victories during the span were against the Orioles.
Baltimore hasn’t won a series at home since sweeping three games from Cleveland on May 7-9. The Orioles fell to 37-48—their worst record at the break since 1999—and dropped a season-high 17 1/2 games out of first place.
“I don’t like the way the weekend went,” manager Lee Mazzilli said, “but you can’t throw in the towel right now. There’s a long way to go.”
The Orioles went 8-19 in June and are 5-6 in July.
“Obviously everybody needs a break to get away from a little bit,” second baseman Brian Roberts said. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”
The hit chased starter Rodrigo Lopez (6-6), who came in 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.
After the bullpen yielded six runs, the Orioles closed the weekend with a 5.08 ERA—second-worst in the AL, ahead of only the Royals (5.09).
Kansas City made it 11-2 with a six-run seventh that began with Sweeney and Matt Stairs hitting successive homers. Sweeney’s homer was his 16th, and third in two games.
Sweeney got the Royals started in the first, hitting a 2-1 pitch an estimated 425 feet to dead center for a 1-0 lead.
His next hit didn’t travel nearly as far, but was just as important. With two outs and Desi Relaford on second, Sweeney bounced an RBI single up the middle. Stairs followed with a double to make it 3-0.
In the bottom half, Miguel Tejada scored Brian Roberts from third with a groundout. David Newhan, who set up the run with a double and hit an RBI single in the ninth, has hit safely in 22 of 23 games with Baltimore.
The Orioles closed to 3-2 in the fourth when Jerry Hairston doubled andscored on a single by Jose Leon.
Sweeney is 6-for-9 lifetime against Lopez. … Baltimore relievers have allowed runs in 35 of their last 47 games. … Royals DH Ken Harvey went0-for-5, and is hitless in his last 21 at-bats.