The Royals avoided a sweep by the Orioles with a 7-4 win at Kauffman Stadium Thursday. As usual–win or lose–it wasn’t dull. The Royals jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but had to dance around a four-run rally by Baltimore to end their two-game skid.
Matt Diaz and Ruben Gotay drove in runs in the second inning to give the Royals a 2-0 bulge. In the third inning Angel Berroa hit a solo home run and Emil Brown belted a three-run shot to give Kansas City a lead of a half-dozen.
But big leads have turned into small leads and small leads have morphed into deficits for the Royals in 2005 and the bullpen has taken the blame on more than a few occasions this season. On Thursday it was starter Runelvys Hernandez who ran into trouble when he allowed the Orioles to score four runs in the fourth inning and left with just one out. Jay Gibbons drove in two runs with a triple, then Larry Bigbie and David Newhan drove in runs with doubles to make it 6-4.
That’s when reliever Leo Nunez entered and took over. Nunez got the final two outs of the inning and pitched two more frames to earn his first win. Nunez gave up just one hit and no walks. After he departed, Jaime Cerda and Mike MacDougal mopped up and held the Orioles hitless over the final three innings. MacDougal got his second save of the season.