Royals rely on bullpen to squeak by Orioles, 3-2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Eric Hosmer rolled a grounder toward first base in the third inning with the score tied, and Lorenzo Cain put on the brakes - a heads-up play that may have won the Royals the game.
Cain hesitated just long enough between first and second base that Baltimore was unable to turn a double play. He later scored on a single by Mike Moustakas, and the Royals went on to a 3-2 victory Tuesday night that pushed their winning streak to four games.
''Just kind of hesitated and didn't let him tag me,'' Cain said. ''It ended up being the winning run, so I guess it was a good one to have.''
Kendrys Morales hit a solo homer and Hosmer also drove in a run for the Royals, who improved to 44-20 at home this season, including 12-2 in their current stretch.
Danny Duffy (7-6) dodged trouble for most of 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. The left-hander struck out five in a start that began in crisp efficiency and ended with the Orioles threatening to pull ahead in the sixth inning.
Luke Hochevar calmed things down with an inning of relief, though. Kelvin Herrera had no trouble with the rest of the seventh and eighth, and Wade Davis pitched a perfect ninth in place of closer Greg Holland to earn his 12th save.
''They did an awesome job,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said of his bullpen. ''It's what they do.''
Miguel Gonzalez (9-10) allowed all three runs on six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings, the latest in a string of lousy starts for Baltimore. Gonzalez is 0-4 in his last six tries.
Leadoff hitter Manny Machado went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, his last ending the game.
The Orioles (62-63) have lost a season-high six straight, falling below .500 for the first time since they were 48-49 on July 26. The calamitous slump has also damaged their playoff hopes - they began the night 2 1/2 games back of Texas for the final AL wild-card spot.
''Always takes a little bit of everything,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''Everybody wants to throw one big circle around one thing. It's a lot of things. A lot of things. And you can't (borrow) from Peter to pay Paul in this game. You've got to do it all.''
The Royals never trailed after Morales sent a 3-2 pitch into the fountains in right field in the second inning. Hosmer added an RBI groundout in the third, and Moustakas delivered yet another two-out single by the league's best-hitting team in such situations to score another run.
The Orioles got two runs back in the fourth when Matt Wieters drew a two-out walk and Steve Pearce, Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph strung together a trio of singles. But Duffy managed to get recently called up Paul Janish to ground out to end the threat.
Duffy was in trouble again in the sixth, but Hochevar got Joseph to fly out to deep right field to leave runners on second and third and preserve the 3-2 lead.
It was up to one of the best bullpens in the majors to take care of the rest.
''We've just got to figure out a way to score more runs,'' Showalter said. ''That's one of the reasons why they're sitting where they are, is they don't give up many. They're taking people out of the rotation that would be in a lot of people's, so it kind of gives you an idea one of the reasons why they're good.''
Yost managed his 900th game with the Royals. He is now 450-450. ''I guess it's cool,'' he said, pointing out that at one point he was 53 games under .500. ''The last two years we've won a bunch of baseball games with a really good group of guys.''
Orioles: C Steve Clevenger went on the three-day paternity list to attend the birth of his daughter. Peyton Lee was born Tuesday afternoon.
Royals: Yost said there is still no timetable for OF Alex Gordon to return from his rehab stint at Triple-A Omaha. Gordon had been out with a groin injury.
Orioles: LHP Wei-Yin Chen tries to keep his unbeaten streak intact Wednesday night. He is 3-0 with three no-decisions since July 21.
Royals: RHP Johnny Cueto makes his sixth start since being traded to Kansas City. He is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA since leaving the Reds.