BALTIMORE (AP)—The scouting report said Miguel Olivo has difficulty hitting breaking balls, so George Sherrill tried to seal a victory for the Baltimore Orioles by throwing a slider with two outs in the ninth inning.
The strategy was sound. The pitch was not.
Olivo homered on an 0-2 pitch to force extra innings, and Jose Guillen singled in the tiebreaking run in the 11th to give Kansas City a 6-5 comeback victory Monday night.
For a second straight game, Sherrill blew a save by yielding a two-out homer. On Sunday, Sherrill had a 1-2 count on Washington’s Ronnie Belliard, who hit a two-run, game-winning drive in the bottom of the 12th.
“Same pitch, same spot,” the left-hander said. “I was just trying to bounce it and both of them rolled.”
When he got to the dugout, Sherrill angrily hurled a bucket of bubble gum onto the field. It wasn’t the first time he had surrendered home runs in successive games, but that didn’t make it any easier to take.
“I’ve had it before but it’s not any more fun,” he lamented. “I’m not going to my fastball enough. (Olivo) struggles with breaking balls, but not that one.”
Olivo, a teammate of Sherrill’s in Seattle in 2004-05, said, “You go for a pitch you can swing at, you can hit. I see a breaking ball hanging and I made contact. … He just leave that ball up a little bit and I make contact.
“It’s a good feeling when you hit a home run and tie the game in the ninth inning. I know it’s a not good feeling for him, but that’s part of baseball.”
The Royals rallied from a four-run deficit to win their sixth straight on the road, the team’s longest run since 1999. The victory also ended Kansas City’s seven-game losing streak at Camden Yards.
“That’s what we’ve been doing lately. We get down, we don’t quit and we come back,” Royals starter Zack Greinke said.
The Orioles have lost three of four, the last two in agonizing fashion.
“George Sherrill has done a great job for us,” first baseman Kevin Millar said. “The last two sliders, they’ve done a good job hitting the ball out, Belliard and Olivo. That’s just baseball.”
Sherrill’s mistake was part of an overall poor performance by the Baltimore bullpen, which blew a 5-1 lead after starter Brian Burres permitted one run in five innings.
Kansas City used RBI singles by John Buck and Aviles to close to 5-3 against Ryan Bukvich in the sixth, and one inning later Dennis Sarfate dropped the ball on the mound, a balk that enabled Guillen to score from third.
That set up Olivo’s heroics, the first pinch-hit homer by Kansas City since Mark Grudzielanek connected last September against the Orioles.
“Two out and one of the best closers on the mound,” Olivo said. “I just try to swing at the ball.”
Baltimore went up 5-1 against Greinke in the fifth. Adam Jones hit a one-out triple and scored on a double by Alex Cintron before Nick Markakis hit an RBI single. Aubrey Huff followed with a run-scoring double and Millar capped the uprising with an RBI single.
Coming into the game, Greinke had limited opponents to a .176 batting average with runners in scoring position, allowing only one extra-base hit. In the fifth, the Orioles went 3-for-4 with a double in that situation.
Greinke pitched five innings and gave up five runs, one more than he allowed in his previous three starts combined.
The start of the game was delayed 31 minutes by rain. … Cintron left in the seventh with a strained left hamstring after beating out an infield hit. … Royals OF David DeJesus did not play because of soreness in his right ribcage. He is day-to-day. … The Orioles placed LHP Jamie Walker (elbow) on the 15-day DL and activated LHP Adam Loewen from the DL.