By Todd Karpovich / The SportsXchange
BALTIMORE -- The series opener Tuesday night between the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals marked the first time in 24 years the teams met when they were both six games over .500.
Matt Wieters drove in three runs, and his eighth-inning double lifted the Orioles (20-13) to a 4-3 victory over the Royals (17-12). Baltimore has tied a season-high with three consecutive wins.
"There's always some turning points in some games," said Wieters, who went 2-for-4. "If you're able to come back on a team after they score on you, it can give you the momentum back, and vice-versa when you get some runs. You just gotta stay focused."
The Orioles blew a 3-0 lead before moving back in front in the eighth. Adam Jones led off with a walk against Tim Collins (1-1), who exited after striking out Chris Davis. Jones took second when Luke Hochevar's pickoff throw sailed past first base. Jones scored on Wieters' double.
Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his league-leading 12th save.
"The leadoff walk is something that is going to get you in trouble just about every time, especially late in the game when they got hitters as productive as Baltimore," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I thought Hoch pitched the ball well. Wieters did a nice job of just serving it down the left-field line for the game-winner."
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen gave up nine hits (all singles) and did not issue a walk while striking out two over 6 1/3 innings. He got some help from the Baltimore defense, which turned three double plays.
Tommy Hunter (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
"We play baseball. It's a nine-inning game," Hunter said. "You play until the end, and hopefully you score more runs than the other team. That's what we do. These guys play hard every day. There's not a guy you can look at and, say, you know, he just took the day off. That doesn't happen here. We have a goal here."
The Royals' Ervin Santana struggled early with his pitch count but wound up allowing just three runs on seven hits in six innings. He finished with four strikeouts and a walk.
The Royals have been followed by bad weather this season and they faced another rain delay in the seventh trailing 3-1.
The 48-minute delay ended the night for Chen, who was trying to become just the third Orioles starter to get through seven innings this season.
When play resumed, Brian Matusz entered for the Orioles and allowed a game-tying, two-run homer to Alex Gordon. It was the first time since moving to the bullpen in August that Matusz allowed an inherited runner to score.
It took Santana 33 pitches to get through the opening inning. He also allowed more than two runs in a game for the first time since April 3 against the Chicago White Sox.
"The first inning there was trouble, but I settled down," Santana said. "Everything was working good. I just threw a lot of strikes to put the guys away."
After cruising through the first two innings, Chen allowed a two-out, RBI single to Alcides Escobar in the third that cut the Orioles' lead to 3-1.
"We're going to go out there no matter what the situation is and we're going to fight until the end," Orioles shortstop Manny Machado said.
NOTES: The Royals' Bruce Chen, Jeremy Guthrie and Miguel Tejada each had successful tenures with the Orioles. Chen won 13 games for the Baltimore in 2005, while Guthrie was Baltimore's Opening Day starter three times. Tejada had a club-record 150 RBI in 2004. ... Kansas City entered the night leading the major leagues in two-out offense, batting .291 with 52 RBIs. ... Orioles SS J.J. Hardy received a cortisone injection for a sore right elbow last weekend, but he hasn't missed any games. ... Machado committed just the Orioles' second error in 11 games with an errant throw in the fifth.