TORONTO (AP)—Whether at the plate or on the bases, the Kansas City Royals can’t seem to catch a break.
Shannon Stewart drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice, Dustin McGowan won for the first time in four starts and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Kansas City 3-1 on Sunday, extending the Royals’ losing streak to a season-high seven games.
“These are tough, hard times,” first-year manager Trey Hillman said. “These guys are frustrated—we’re all frustrated. I’m trying everything I know to try.”
The Royals banged out 10 hits, though nine of them were singles, and had three runners thrown out on the bases. Jose Guillen, who has been bothered by a sore hip, was caught at the plate by center fielder Alex Rios as he tried to score on Billy Butler’s single in the fourth.
“Rios did what he has the athleticism to do,” Hillman said. “He came and got it, quick release and it was a perfect throw.”
The Royals tied it 1-1 in the fifth but should have done better after the first three batters reached safely. Ross Gload singled and Tony Pena and Joey Gathright were both safe on bunt singles before Gload scored when David DeJesus hit a sacrifice fly. But Stewart threw out Pena trying to advance to third, and McGowan ended the inning by striking out Esteban German.
“That’s the best throw I’ve ever seen Shannon Stewart make,” Hillman said. “If I was coaching third base or running at second base, I would have done exactly the same things we did today.
“You can’t get out of the funk we’re in right now being careful,” Hillman added. “It just doesn’t happen that way. You’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to try to make some things happen.”
In the second, Gload was caught stealing second on a throw that shortstop Marco Scutaro caught the ball on the third base side but still had time to make the out.
Kansas City, the American League’s lowest-scoring team, has managed only 14 runs in its past seven games, with more than half of those coming in an 11-8 defeat at Boston on May 22.
“We’re going through a rough part as a team,” Butler said. “We’re just not getting the luck, you know? We’re getting hits, we’re just not getting the big one, something to get us going. That’s what happens when you struggle. You can’t find something to get you going.”
Hillman hopes to turn the Royals’ luck around by skipping batting practice before Monday’s series finale.
“We’ll give these guys a chance to catch their breath a little bit,” he said.
McGowan (3-4) allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings to win for the first time since May 5 against Cleveland. He matched a season-high by striking out seven and walked none.
The Blue Jays (27-25) have won 10 of 13 to move two games above .500 for the first time since they were 8-6 on April 15.
“We’ve managed to put everything together and we’re playing good baseball right now,” Rios said.
Royals right-hander Gil Meche (3-7) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. Meche walked two and struck out five, and has lost three of his past four starts.
Meche was angry with himself for allowing Toronto to reclaim the lead after the Royals had tied the game in the fifth.
“We tied it up and I turned around and gave it right back to them,” he said. “Those are situations where you’ve just got to take control and make sure you get us back in the dugout, keep the momentum in our hands.”
Toronto opened the scoring in the first when Stewart led off with a single, moved to second on a grounder and came home when Scott Rolen hit a two-out double up the alley in left-center.
Rios made it 3-1 in the seventh with an RBI single off Ramon Ramirez.
Lyle Overbay walked in the second, setting a Blue Jays record by reaching base for the 12th straight plate appearance. Tony Fernandez reached in 11 straight in 1999.
“I’m just trying to have good at bats and get on base however I can,” Overbay said. “I just didn’t want to do anything stupid.”
The streak ended in the fourth when Overbay flied out to left. It was his first out since grounding to second in the second inning of Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Angels.
Stewart and Barajas each extended their hitting streaks to 10 games.
Royals OF Mark Teahen, who is stuck in an 0-for-18 slump, got the day off and was replaced by Gload. … Blue Jays RHP Brian Wolfe (strained triceps) started a rehab assignment with Class-A Dunedin. Wolfe has not pitched since April 16. … Right-handers Brett Tomko (2-5) and Shaun Marcum (4-3) will pitch when the teams wrap up the season series Monday.
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