BALTIMORE (AP) - When analyzing the key elements of a stinging defeat, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost looked past Baltimore's eight hits and Matt Wieters' three RBIs.
To Yost, the most regrettable aspect of the 4-3 loss on Tuesday night was reliever Tim Collins' inability to throw a strike when it mattered most.
Collins (1-1) walked leadoff hitter Adam Jones to open the eighth inning, and nothing went right for the Royals after that. Jones advanced on Luke Hochevar's errant pickoff throw and scored on a twisting, opposite-field double to left by Wieters.
``The leadoff walk is something that's going to get you in trouble just about every time, especially late in the game,' Yost lamented. ``We thought we had the pitching matchup, but the walk killed us.'
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals and former Oriole Miguel Tejada made a sparkling play at third base and had two hits to raise his batting average to .368.
The Orioles came into the game with 39 home runs, including 17 that gave them the lead and four that tied it.
On this night, they found a different way to win. Besides scoring in unusual fashion in the eighth, Baltimore turned three double plays and got a fielding gem from shortstop J.J. Hardy.
``When you don't walk people and you catch the baseball the way we did tonight, you give yourself a chance to win those types of games,' manager Buck Showalter said.
Tommy Hunter (2-1) worked 1 1-3 innings of relief and Jim Johnson got three straight outs for his 12th save.
It was the fourth win in five games for the Orioles, who moved within a game of first-place Boston in the AL East.
``This team grinds it out,' Hunter said. ``This team is fun to watch for everybody. Nobody should ever leave the stadium, I'll tell you that much, under any circumstances.'
Even on a brisk, wet night.
Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen had a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning when rain forced a 48-minute delay. After play resumed, Brian Matusz got an out before yielding a two-run homer to Gordon.
Chen allowed two runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Ervin Santana gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings for Kansas City. The right-hander walked one and struck out four.
``First inning I was always in trouble, but after that I settled down and threw a lot of strikes and blew guys away,' Santana said.
Baltimore went up 3-0 in the first. Singles by Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones produced a run before Wieters hit a two-out, two-run double.
``I missed that one. He hit a mistake,' Santana said.
Yost, however, said, ``I thought that Wieters did a nice job hitting a pretty good slider.'
In the third, Tejada hit a one-out single and scored on a single by Alcides Escobar. In the bottom half, Tejada made a diving stop of Jones' grounder and fired a successful throw to first while in a sitting position.
Hardy saved a run with a sparkling dive-and-throw play in the fourth. With two outs and a runner on second, Hardy went to the edge of the outfield grass to snare a grounder by Salvador Perez before throwing to first while on his knees.
Santana regrouped from his shaky start to retire 12 straight batters until Nate McLouth singled with two outs in the fifth. Machado followed with a single before Markakis hit a fly to left.
NOTES: The Orioles will probably move RHP Miguel Gonzalez back from his scheduled Wednesday start because of a blister on his thumb. ... Santana's streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings ended abruptly in the first. ... Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts, who's been on the DL since April 5 with a right hamstring strain, still isn't feeling right and will visit Dr. Daniel Cooper in Dallas for a second opinion. ``He just doesn't feel like it's moving at the pace he was hoping,' Showalter said. ... Royals RHP Luis Mendoza (0-1, 7.00 ERA) vies for his first win of the season on Wednesday. Chris Tillman (2-1, 3.63) will start for the Orioles.
The Associated Press News Service
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