Orioles’ Hill picks up victory over Royals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Rich Hill(notes) took a giant step toward forgetting his disappointing 2008 season.

Hill came off the disabled list to pitch into the sixth inning, picking up his first victory in more than a year as the Baltimore Orioles beat the slumping Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Saturday night.

Hill, who had been out with a strained left elbow, limited the Royals to two runs on seven hits—six singles—in 5 2-3 innings. He earned his first victory since April 18, 2008, when he was still with the Chicago Cubs.

After winning 11 games in 2007 for the Cubs in 2007, Hill had trouble throwing strikes last year. He walked 18 in 19 2-3 innings and the Cubs sent him back to the minors after five starts. The Cubs gave up on Hill and dealt him to the Orioles for a player to be named on Feb. 2.

“It’s satisfying in a lot of ways,” Hill said. “The challenges from last year when you have to learn patience and understand the trials I went through and to get to the point I am this year. Without learning that patience, I might not be standing here right now. That was the biggest stepping stone.

“You really appreciate the game a lot more, especially when you go through a tough year and some injuries that kept me on the sideline,” Hill said. “Every day you’re happy that you’re able to play and compete at this level. I won’t ever take it for granted.”

Danys Baez(notes), Jim Johnson(notes) and George Sherrill(notes) held the Royals hitless after Hill exited, with Sherrill working a flawless ninth to pick up his seventh save in nine opportunities.

“That’s as good a game as we’ve seen out of a starting pitcher this year,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Hill’s performance “He showed tremendous poise and had real good command for a guy who hasn’t pitched all year in the big leagues. He gave us everything we expected and more. I think it’s a tremendous accomplishment by him. It’s a real shot in the arm for everybody.

The bumbling Royals, who have scored three runs or fewer in 17 of 37 games, have lost seven of their past eight.

“We let Hill get too comfortable,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “We let him off the hook too early. We just pressed a little bit too much in the second and third. I’d like to see us with a guy we’ve never seen in that situation take a few more pitches. He commanded his breaking pitch in spots very well. That made it a little more difficult challenge for us.”

Brian Roberts(notes) led off the game by walking on four pitches, stealing second and third, and scoring on a wild pitch by Kyle Davies(notes), who threw 30 of his 119 pitches in the first.

“The starting pitcher’s job is to set the tone for the game, and I didn’t do it,” Davies said. “I was as bad you can be in the first inning, not just in command, but I let Roberts steal second and third. It’s pretty easy to get a guy in with the type of hitters they have and a fast runner like Roberts.”

The Orioles scored another run in the fourth when Nolan Reimold’s(notes) two-out single brought home Melvin Mora(notes), who had doubled. It was Reimold’s first big league RBI.

Alberto Callaspo’s(notes) two-out double with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth scored Coco Crisp(notes) and Willie Bloomquist(notes). Callaspo is hitting .429 with runners in scoring position.

The Orioles regained the lead in the fifth. Cesar Itzuris had a bunt single with one out, advanced to second on another wild pitch by Davies (2-2), and scored on Nick Markakis’(notes) two-out single.

Davies left after seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. He lost for the first time since April 25 to Detroit.

Notes

Royals 3B Alex Gordon(notes) threw two stints of 25 throws at about 45 feet, his first day of playing catch since hip surgery April 17. … Royals SS Tony Pena Jr.(notes), who went on the DL May 2 with a fractured bone in his left hand, went through some barehanded light fielding drills. “He was just getting some footwork and throwing in, so he doesn’t go too far backward,” Hillman said. “He got the stitches out of the hand.” … The Orioles placed OF Luke Scott(notes) on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder.

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