KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP)
The Kansas City Royals finished off an impressive homestand against two of the American League’s better teams.
Jeremy Guthrie pitched six solid innings and Billy Butler homered as the Royals beat theBaltimore Orioles 7-1 on Thursday to close out the homestand.
The Royals went 5-2 against the Orioles and the AL Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers.
”I told people who asked over the break that we need to win five of seven or we’re going to be in trouble,” Guthrie said. ”We did exactly what we needed to do.”
Guthrie (10-7), who won 47 games in five seasons with the Orioles, allowed six hits over six innings. He gave up one run, while striking out five and walking one.
Guthrie went 3-1 in July and his 10 victories are one shy of his season high, set in 2010 with the Orioles.
”Ten wins is obviously indicative of the way the team is playing,” Guthrie said.
The Royals had 10 hits, including two each by rookie David Lough and Jarrod Dyson. Lough drove in a pair of runs with singles in the first and fifth innings. Alex Gordon also had two RBIs with a triple in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the second.
Butler homered, his ninth of the season, in the seventh inning off Francisco Rodriguez, who was making his Orioles’ debut after being acquired in a trade with Milwaukee on Tuesday.
”It was a great homestand, going 5-2 against two teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today,” Butler said. ”We’re definitely playing catch up.”
The Royals are in third place in the division, seven games behind the Tigers, but after going 10-10 in the past 20 games against teams with winning records, they play their next 12 against sub-.500 clubs.
”We’re making a big statement, taking series from Baltimore and Detroit,” Lough said. ”We’re trying to climb back to .500 and into the AL Central race.”
Both of Lough’s RBIs came with two out. He is hitting .414 with 15 RBIs with runners in scoring position and two out.
”I like the pressure,” Lough said. ”I take it as a normal at-bat. It seems like I get in a lot those situations. I just try to put the ball in play.”
Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-4) lasted just 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season and snapping his streak of eight straight quality starts. Gonzalez, who lost for only the second time since May 21, allowing a season-high six runs and eight hits, one walk and a hit batter, while striking out none.
”It was a tough one tonight,” Gonzalez said. ”It just didn’t work out. (Guthrie) did a good job getting our hitters off-balance. I was trying to stay focused but the grip wasn’t there. I had to battle and it didn’t work out.
”My adrenaline wasn’t there. I was high with my pitches the first couple of innings and I was behind in the count. I had good stuff but I was up with the fastball and the splittie was up and guys took advantage of that and scored early.”
The Royals scored three runs in the first two innings, all with two out. Salvador Perez and Lough contributed RBI singles in the first. Gordon’s fly to center in the second scored Chris Getz, who had doubled and moved to third on Dyson’s bunt single.
The Royals’ three-run fifth included Dyson scoring on Gordon’s triple, while Eric Hosmer and Lough added RBI singles.
Henry Urrutia tripled with two out in the fifth and scored on Brian Roberts’ double for the Orioles’ run.
The Orioles won the first four games of this road trip before losing the final three at Kauffman Stadium.
”We look at it as kind of a half-empty, half-full thing,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”We’ve been gone 11 days and everybody is looking forward to getting back home. It was a tough game. We hit some balls hard, but things didn’t go our way.”
Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters singled in his first two at-bats for his fifth consecutive multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Note: The Royals went 26-22 with Hall of Famer George Brett as the interim hitting coach, a position he stepped down from Thursday. ”I just thought it was time for me to move on,” Brett said. ”It was time for me to sit in the suite again with Dayton (Moore, general manager), instead of travel around the country.” Pedro Grifol, who had been Brett’s assistance, was promoted to the hitting coach. … RHP Chris Tillman, who starts Friday against Boston, is trying to become the first Oriole to win 13 games in a season since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007. … Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the majors with 39 doubles, but none since July 6. … Baltimore 1B Chris Davis, who tops the majors with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs, struck out four times and went 3-for-15 with eight strikeouts in the series.