Olivo's heroics push Royals to victory
Solo shot sent game to extras, Guillen singles in winning run
BALTIMORE -- As a practical matter, it made sense for the Orioles to intentionally walk Alex Gordon to get to Royals slugger Jose Guillen.
Tie game, 11th inning and right-handed submariner Chad Bradford one the mound -- just the type of pitcher Guillen hates to face.
However, that didn't matter Monday. Guillen punched an RBI single into right field to give Kansas City a 6-5 victory Monday night, ending its stretch of seven straight losses at Camden Yards. The Baltimore jinx was broken.
But it was a very close call.
The Orioles, with closer George Sherrill on the mound, were one strike away from closing out a 5-4 victory in the ninth. That's when pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo, on a 0-2 pitch, lofted a game-tying home run into the left-field seats.
"Nobody can hit a nasty pitch," Olivo said. "You want a pitch you can hit, and I saw that breaking ball hanging and just made good contact."
Olivo was pinch-hitting for Mark Teahen with two outs and nobody on. Sherrill is a left-hander with 26 saves, and Royals manager Trey Hillman wanted a right-handed batter at the plate.
He summoned Olivo.
"He had a great batting practice today and, off left-handed pitchers, he's got better numbers than Mark," Hillman said. "I was hoping he'd be able to get one out of the ballpark."
That accomplished, Kansas City was back in the game.
"From there, my job was to hold 'em right there and, fortunately enough, we got another run and [Joakim] Soria closed out the game," reliever Ron Mahay said. "Right man in the right spot, I guess."
Mahay's record rose to 4-0 after the 11th inning. Mike Aviles opened the inning against Bradford by legging out a chopper up the middle that was grabbed by second baseman Brian Roberts.
"I was in hyper-gear as soon as I hit it because there's always a chance, with the guys behind me, to score a run," Aviles said.
He beat Roberts' throw and took second on Mark Grudzielanek's sacrifice bunt. That's when Bradford intentionally walked Gordon.
"That's a perfect situation with the guy on the mound, a ground-ball pitcher and first base was open," Guillen said. "He wanted to take a chance with me and, hopefully, I'd hit a ground ball, but it worked out real well for us."
Bradford tried his sidewinding fastball, clocked at 81 mph, and Guillen punched it into right field as Aviles fled for home and scored with ease.
"He's been big for us all year," Aviles said. "It's almost like you expect it from him. He's a guy that's unbelievable."
With a one-run lead, Soria came in and pitched yet another 1-2-3 inning for his 22nd save in 23 chances. Soria, who struck out two of the three, has retired 25 of the last 26 batters he's faced.
It was a nice finish after the Royals had fallen behind, 5-1, when the Orioles started smacking starter Zack Greinke around in the fifth inning. To that point, he'd allowed only a solo home run to Ramon Hernandez and seemed to be rolling.
"It was one of those things, when I didn't make a perfect pitch, they hit it hard," Greinke said. "It wasn't like they were softly hit balls."
Not at all. The Orioles socked a triple and two doubles into the deep reaches of right-center field, and threw in a couple of singles, too.
But Kansas City was able to scramble back.
A strange balk by reliever Dennis Sarfate got the Royals within one run in the seventh. Guillen's single and Billy Butler's third hit had runners at the corners with two outs. Sarfate was twirling the ball at his side, adjusting his grip for a 3-2 pitch to Gload, and dropped it. Guillen was waved home.
Things were starting to turn the Royals' way.
"That's what we've been doing lately. We get behind, and we don't quit and we come back," Greinke said. "This is several games now where we've been behind by a bunch and still find a way to come back."
Even, finally, at Camden Yards.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.