Royals-Orioles Preview

The Associated Press

Adam Jones has been an emerging star since arriving in Baltimore in 2008.

It appears he's about to be paid like a fully-fledged one.

With the announcement of a contract extension seemingly very close, Jones looks to extend his 16-game hitting streak and lead the Orioles to a sixth straight home win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

Jones has slowly developed into Baltimore's best player since he was acquired from Seattle in February 2008, and the team appears ready to make a long-term commitment to its center fielder. Jones confirmed Friday that his representative, Nez Balelo, was in Baltimore and also said he's taken a physical, a prerequisite to a multi-year extension.

"Hopefully, we can get this done. It would be good for the team, good for the fans,'' Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "Adam Jones is a good player. We like Adam Jones, like what he does for our team. He is a great defensive center fielder and hits in the middle of our lineup.''

On pace for the best season of his seven-year career, Jones seems likely to make his second All-Star team and first since 2009. He leads the league-best Orioles (29-17) in batting average (.310), homers (14), RBIs (31), runs (33) and steals (7).

Baltimore entered this three-game series having lost three of four but Jones knocked in a pair and Jason Hammel pitched six scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory Friday.

The crowd of 28,954 included nearly 11,000 walk-up fans, a testament to the excitement the Orioles have generated after 14 straight losing seasons.

"Outstanding crowd tonight,'' Hammel said. "If they are backing us, we are going to feel even better about ourselves. It's been fun to see the stands filling up now. We want to just continue to play good baseball for them.''

Jones is batting .348 during a career-best 16-game hitting streak in which he has six homers, 14 RBIs and 10 runs.

Chris Davis hit Baltimore's major league-leading 70th homer and had three RBIs on Friday to help the Orioles beat the Royals for the fifth straight time at home and improve to 16-3 in their last 19 games against the AL Central.

Nick Markakis added three hits and is 9 for 19 in his last four games versus Kansas City (17-27).

The victory gave the Orioles three consecutive winning months of at least 10 games for the first time since Sept. 2004-May 2005.

Jeff Francoeur had a two-run homer in the Royals' third straight loss and seventh in nine games since a season-best four-game winning streak.

Hammel's outing improved the Orioles to 22-1 this season when they get a quality start - a trend Wei-Yin Chen (4-1, 3.35 ERA) hopes to continue.

The left-hander allowed more than three earned runs for the first time in eight starts Sunday in a 9-3 loss at Washington. He gave up six runs and eight hits - including Stephen Strasburg's first career homer - in a season-low 4 1-3 innings and failed to become the first starter since Jimmy Key in 1997 to begin his Orioles career with five straight wins.

After pitching brilliantly in his second start this month against the Yankees, the Royals' Felipe Paulino (2-1, 1.42) attempts to do the same versus Baltimore.

Paulino scattered six hits over 6 2-3 innings and struck out eight in a 6-0 win at Yankee Stadium on Monday. He became the first starter to pitch shutout ball against New York in consecutive outings since Boston's Josh Beckett on April 10 and May 14 last year.

The right-hander was outstanding in his first career start against the Orioles, striking out nine in seven scoreless innings May 16 before the Royals lost in 15.

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