Gil a fine Meche in win over Marlins
Ace shuts down Florida's offense; Sweeney has three RBIs
KANSAS CITY -- In his last seven starts, Gil Meche was often pitching behind in low-scoring contests. On Friday, Meche finally experienced a different game.
For the first time in weeks, Meche pitched with a lead for nearly the entire night, throwing eight innings of one-run ball in a 6-2 win over the Marlins at Kauffman Stadium.
"It was very relaxing," he said.
Meche had been a hard-luck pitcher the past six weeks. He hadn't captured a victory since May 3 against the Angels, a stretch of seven outings.
The ace hadn't pitched poorly -- he had a 4.22 ERA in those seven starts -- but run support was a constant problem. The team scored just four runs when he was on the mound in those seven outings, yielding a 0-5 record and two no-decisions.
"I don't think I have ever lost five straight games in my life," he said.
But everything changed against the Marlins. The team topped the four-run total in the first seven innings, scoring all six runs off Florida starter Sergio Mitre. It marked the fifth time in the last seven games KC scored at least six runs in a contest, and was the team's fourth win in five games.
"I think everyone is clicking," Alex Gordon said. "We are doing everything well, offensively, defensively and pitching. It's a lot easier to hit when you have guys on base for you. We have been doing that a lot with guys who are in scoring position and guys who are coming up with clutch hits."
And Meche did the rest, tying a season high for innings pitched and allowing one earned run or fewer for the eighth time in 15 starts. More importantly, he picked up a starting rotation that had allowed 10 earned runs and worked just five innings in the previous two games.
Several relievers were deemed unavailable and manager Buddy Bell had no pitcher that could work several innings if needed.
None of it mattered, as Meche delivered another ace-quality performance.
"We needed someone to go deep into the game. He did that," Bell said. "We needed someone not to give a whole lot up. He did that. He did exactly what we needed him to do."
Meche had some problems in the first three innings, allowing several base runners -- including a solo homer to Miguel Olivo -- that gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
"The first three innings I couldn't get real comfortable," he said. "I was looking at my tapes to see if I noticed anything. My rhythm wasn't where it needed to be. I was going to be early, I was going to be late, I couldn't get my leg up in time. Finally, I just slowed down into a good rhythm."
And he cruised. Meche permitted just four baserunners in the next five innings and never allowed a runner to reach third base. He received some help behind him, as Esteban German snared two line drives at second base and Tony Pena continued a dazzling defensive season at shortstop, making a catch with his back toward the home plate on a Jeremy Hermida inning fly ball in the fourth, and another nice stop on a Hanley Ramirez ground ball.
Finishing with 70 strikes in 114 pitches, Meche threw all of his pitches -- fastball, curveball, changeup and slider -- in all counts.
"I threw some 3-1 sliders and got some swings and misses," he said. "If you throw off-speed pitches for strikes behind in counts in the big leagues, you are going to be successful, and tonight was the perfect example."
Meche ranks among the American League leaders in innings pitched (99), quality starts (11) and ERA (3.00). His record stands at 4-6.
"We haven't been able to produce for him, and he has been going out there giving up one run or two runs and we have been giving him a loss," Gordon said. "We felt good to finally contribute for him."
The middle of the lineup contributed the most damage, reaching base seven times. Gordon continued his torrid hitting with two hits and a run scored. He is batting .438 in his last 32 at-bats, raising his average to a season-high .209.
"Why think about the past? I started the season out on a bad start," Gordon said of the turnaround. "Why think about that? It's a long season and I want to focus on what we are doing right now, which is winning games."
Emil Brown doubled home Gordon and Mark Teahen in the sixth, giving the Royals a two-run lead. After Teahen was intentionally walked to load the bases in the seventh, Mike Sweeney delivered the final blow, grounding a three-run double down the left-field line.
"After [Sweeney's hit], I could be consistent and just not to do much," Meche said.
And stay relaxed.
Conor Nicholl is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.