Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Berroa’s blast sparks K.C. rally

June 17, 2004


— Angel Berroa is starting to get his stroke back.

"I had a problem with headaches, and then it seemed like I lost my swing," said the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year. "Now I feel better all over."

Berroa hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Kansas City Royals had their best hitting output in almost four years, rallying for a 10-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Joe Randa went 4-for-5 with an RBI double, and Berroa had three hits and drove in a career-high four runs for the Royals, who ended a two-game losing skid. Kansas City had 20 hits for the first time since Aug. 5, 2001, at Minnesota.

"Our offense was supposed to be our strength this year, and we haven't lived up to our capabilities," Randa said. "Hopefully, we can carry this over and have some fun at the ballpark."

Trailing 3-1 going into the eighth, the Royals scored four times on five hits off reliever Chris Reitsma (3-2), including Carlos Beltran's go-ahead RBI single.

"I'll admit it," Reitsma said. "I just stunk tonight. That's the bottom line."

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They broke it open in the ninth on Randa's RBI double, a squeeze bunt by Berroa, an RBI single by Beltran and a two-run double by pinch-hitter Damian Jackson.

The Royals, who entered with a 7-22 road record that was worst in the majors, improved to 3-30 this year when trailing after seven.

Berroa's second season hardly has resembled his first, when he hit .287 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs. The 26-year-old shortstop was batting just .216 when migraine headaches landed him on the disabled list in April. He returned May 1, but entered Wednesday with a .227 average since.

"They've been pitching me a little different," Berroa said. "Everything has been harder this year."

Jaime Cerda (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn his first AL win. Jeremy Affeldt converted his ninth save in 11 chances after pitching the ninth.

Reitsma ruined a solid outing by Atlanta starter Jaret Wright, who was attempting to win his third straight start for the first time in over five years.

Wright allowed eight hits, one run and two walks in 51/3 innings. The right-hander struck out four.

Kevin Gryboski relieved Wright with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, and needed just two pitches to retire Berroa and pinch-hitter Dee Brown.

Antonio Alfonseca pitched a scoreless seventh, but Reitsma allowed two hits to begin the eighth.

Berroa then followed with his fifth homer and third in his last six games. He also drove in three runs for the second time since Saturday.

Rafael Furcal gave Atlanta the lead with his 10th career leadoff homer and first since last July 10 at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Royals starter Jimmy Gobble allowed five hits, three runs and walked five in five innings. He struck out three before Nate Field pitched a scoreless sixth.

"It was good to shut down the middle of their lineup," Gobble said after Kansas City pitchers held the Braves' 3-4-5-6 hitters to three combined hits in 18 at-bats. "I went at them and tried to throw strikes. I made a few mistakes they didn't hit."

The Braves scored twice in the second. After J.D. Drew led off with a double, Gobble walked three straight, including Furcal on a full count. Nick Green added a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

Wright escaped trouble in the fourth after Matt Stairs led off with a double and moved to third on Randa's single. After Wright got Benito Santiago to ground into a double play that scored Stairs and cut the lead to 3-1, Berroa flew out to end the inning.

Scott Sullivan allowed Furcal's RBI groundout to first in the eighth that cut the lead to 5-4.

Notes: Jesse Garcia replaced 3B Chipper Jones as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game for the second straight night. Jones, fighting a sore right hamstring, singled to lead off the seventh, but he committed a throwing error in the top half of the inning. ... The game began 21 minutes late after the grounds crew uncovered the infield. After one thunderstorm passed by, rain began to fall in the eighth.

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