Royals' offense comes up shy in loss
Gordon, Teahen drill solo shots; Hochevar picks up sixth loss
BALTIMORE -- Alex Gordon got Kansas City off to a booming start. Then the Baltimore Orioles lowered the boom.
A bid for another comeback fell short, and the Royals were knocked off, 7-5, by the Orioles on Tuesday night. The loss ended a six-game winning streak on the road, the longest away from Kansas City since 1999.
Gordon connected in a big way in the first inning. He sent a home run soaring over the right-field scoreboard and into Eutaw Street.
The solo shot, off right-hander Radhames Liz, was the fifth blasted into Eutaw Street this season and just the 45th in the 17-year history of Camden Yards.
"We knew that the guy threw hard, so I think he provided most of the power," Gordon said. "He just threw a fastball down the middle, and I was able to connect with it."
His 11th homer this season was calculated at 425 feet, a distance teammate Jose Guillen felt wasn't right.
"No way," Guillen said. "I think that ball was [hit] farther than that. It was one of the hardest balls I've ever seen hit. I thought it was going to go over that warehouse. That ball was crushed."
Irregardless of the home run's majesty, the 1-0 lead quickly slipped away with the help of a couple fielding mistakes by shortstop Mike Aviles and some faulty pitches by Luke Hochevar. By the end of three innings, the Orioles were up, 6-1.
There were two outs in the second when Hochevar hit Adam Jones with a pitch and Brandon Fahey hit a drive to left field that was bobbled momentarily by Guillen.
As Jones rounded third base, Aviles took Guillen's throw, checked second base and, belatedly, threw home. Too late, as Jones was in with the go-ahead run.
"Usually on a ball like that, there's no chance that a guy on first is going to go all the way home," Aviles said. "It just so happened he ended up going and he scored."
Royals manager Trey Hillman said there was no reason for Aviles to be checking second base -- where Fahey already was arriving with a double. Besides, Gordon was shouting for a throw home.
"Once it's bobbled all the way down the line like that, we're not going to have a shot at second base," Hillman said. "Jose made the right throw, we just didn't get the right relay. We had the delay, and that cost us a run."
In the third inning, Nick Markakis was on second base with one out. Aviles fielded Kevin Millar's grounder, and then he saw Markakis start toward third and then hesitate. Instead of throwing to first base, Aviles tried to pick off Markakis with a throw to second.
The trouble was, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was almost blinded by the setting sun.
"Once he hesitated, I knew we had him at second," Aviles said. "It's just there was a little bit of sun in Mark's eyes. I thought going to second would have been a better shot because that would have taken care of the lead runner."
Grudzielanek, startled by the throw, made a quick flip to first base, but couldn't get Millar.
"I wasn't calling for it," Grudzielanek said. "I don't know how I caught it because I was right in that glare. But it's just one of those things. He caught me off guard, and I almost lost my teeth there because he fired it over pretty good."
There was still one out instead of two. The next hitter, Luke Scott, grounded into a forceout. Hochevar walked Melvin Mora, then served up a fastball that Ramon Hernandez ripped for a two-run single. Jones rolled a single into right field, and the Orioles had four runs.
"Stuff like that happens, and it's my job to come back and make quality pitches and get out of that," Hochevar said.
The Royals chipped away after Mark Teahen led off the fifth with his ninth home run. Gordon doubled and scored in the sixth on Teahen's sacrifice fly.
Brian Roberts' leadoff homer in the seventh off Royals reliever Jimmy Gobble put the Orioles up, 7-3.
Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate doled out two walks in the ninth, and manager Dave Trembley called on closer George Sherrill, who had blown saves in each of the past two games. He probably could have used a break.
"I would have preferred to stay away from Sherrill," Trembley said. "[But] if you got a guy down there that's a closer on this team and it's a save situation, he's going to get it."
Sherrill did get his 27th save but, before he did, Grudzielanek slapped a two-run single to bring the Royals within two.
"We had a good comeback again, and it just fell short," Gordon said.
Unlike his home run, which fell very long.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.