KANSAS CITY -- Hardly anyone, including Royals general manager Dayton Moore, expected this.

On Aug. 4, the Royals won for the seventh time in eight games and the future looked bright. They were just seven games below .500 and the elusive break-even point beckoned. They were in fourth place and 9 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the American League Central, the closest they'd been in more than a month.

Since then, through Monday, they'd lost 15 of 18 games. They were 19 games below .500, deep in last place and 19 games off the pace.

"I certainly expected our players to be performing much better," Moore said. "We've had some injuries but injuries are part of the game and you can't make excuses. Other players have got to step up."

Moore stepped up to take his part of the blame, saying he needed to create a greater backlog of talent within the farm system.

"Our coaching staff has grinded it out all summer, they've worked hard and are very prepared. A lot of fundamental work continues to be done," Moore said.

"I've got to do a better job of getting depth in the organization, so when injuries occur, we're able to fill the holes."

There weren't a lot of options, for example, when the Royals needed a starting pitcher last Sunday. About the only choice was Brandon Duckworth, who had veteran credentials, but only a 5-11 record for Triple-A Omaha.

The Royals' pitching, after a promising beginning this season, has fallen off and ranks third from the bottom in the AL with a 4.74 ERA.

"For whatever reason, we haven't been able to maintain the consistency that we all expected. We've all got to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out how to get better," Moore said.

The Royals ranked second to last in the AL in runs scored and not even the influx of power hitter Jose Guillen (17 homers, 80 RBIs) has made an appreciable overall improvement.

"I mean, he's done well. He's certainly an improvement to any player we had on the team last year, but I think Jose would tell you I think he expects more out of himself," Moore said.

First-year manager Trey Hillman, who has a multi-year contract, will be back and Moore was satisfied with his work.

"I think Trey has done a terrific job, along with the coaching staff, and any lack of success that we've had on the field, I'll take responsibility for it," Moore said. "And our players will take responsibility as well. Any time a team is not achieving to their accustomed level or their estimated level of expectation, everybody has to take responsibility."

Moore doesn't believe the team has quit under the burden of all the recent losing.

"I don't think so," Moore said. "I think the energy level is good. We're just not performing right now. ... We've got 31 games left and I still expect us to finish strong."