Orioles 3, Royals 4: Hochevar'd

Jamie Squire

Wei-Yin Chen pitched a good game but didn't get much run support as the O's lost 4-3 on a walkoff double by Alcides Escobar.

The game started quietly enough. Although the O's did get the leadoff batter on in the first three, their subsequent fellows hung them out to dry. Their best chance came in the top of the second, when Chris Davis walked (on four pitches!) and Matt Wieters reached on an error by Royals second baseman Chris Getz, who botched the double play. With runners on second and one out, J.J. Hardy quickly grounded into an actual double play. Henry Urrutia came up with Davis and smacked the ball hard -- really hard -- but it was for naught as Elliot Johnson caught it at the wall for the third out.

For the Royals' part, Eric Hosmer made it 1-0 with a full-count solo home run in the bottom of the first. Billy Butler followed with a single, but Chen settled down after that, retiring the next 12 batters.

The O's got on the board in the top of the fourth. With one out, Adam Jones bounced a ball towards Hosmer at first, who tried to backhand it on the hop. He missed, and the ball deflected off his glove into short right field for the second error of the game. Davis came up next but struck out. Fortunately, hot-hitting Wieters stepped to the plate and smacked the first pitch he saw right where Hosmer had put it earlier. 2-1 O's. The unearned runs were the 32nd and 33rd allowed by the Royals this year.

Alcides Escobar ended Chen's runner-less streak in the bottom of the 5th with a one-out single to left field, but the threat ended there when Getz popped out and Johnson grounded out. Billy Butler made things a bit interesting with a two-out double in the bottom of the 6th, but Perez flew out to right to silence the KC crowd.

They'd get right back in it in the bottom of the 7th. Former O Miguel Tejada singled to start the inning and was erased in favor of David Lough, who reached on a fielder's choice. Escobar then hit into a surefire double play, but Manny Machado committed a rare error, letting the ball bounce up and off his glove, and everybody was safe. Getz was now at the plate with the chance to atone for his earlier botched double play. Fortunately for the O's, he hit into one of his own, ending the inning and preserving the lead.

The O's opened the top of the 8th with back-to-back singles by Roberts and McLouth. Machado then worked a 3-1 count while the KC infield shifted around, trying to protect against the bunt. Machado did end up bunting, and although Santana probably had a play at third, he didn't look there and so it was Manny who got thrown out.

With one out and first base open, Ned Yost intentionally walked Nick Markakis to load the bases for Jones. We all know the book on Jones; throw him sliders low and away and he will either K or tap the ball to the shortstop. Santana did throw him a slider low and away, and Jones did tap the ball to the shortstop, but he managed to swing early enough to get the ball closer to third than to short. Escobar had to move several steps to his right and make an off-balance throw, meaning that while Markakis was out at second, Jones was safe at first, 3-1 O's.

Davis then tapped into the shift to end the inning, leaving two runners on base. That at-bat and the two runners he stranded would likely stick in his mind, because in the bottom half, a tiring Chen gave up a two-run blast to Hosmer. With the game now tied at 3-3, Darren O'Day replaced Chen and got the final two outs.

In the top of the 9th, Luke Hochevar replaced Santana and gave up a single to Urrutia but nothing else. At least Wieters and Roberts had decent at-bats. O'Day went back to work in the bottom of the 9th and got Tejada to line out to Machado at third. Lough then punched a single up the middle. The ball caromed weirdly off of second base, but Jones was running in and made to throw to keep Lough at first.

It wouldn't matter, though. Escobar got the barrel of the bat on a thigh-high, inside fastball and bounced it off the wall above a leaping McLouth. Lough, who'd hesitated thinking it was a home run, picked up speed and scored the winning run ahead of the throw. 4-3 Royals and that's the ballgame.

The loss sends the O's to 57-45, puts the Royals at 47-51, and gives them another day to delude themselves into thinking they can contend this year. The O's look to split the series tomorrow when they send Miguel Gonzalez up against former O Jeremy Guthrie.

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