Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2004

Gonzalez’s three-run blast helps Royals subdue Rangers, 5-3

May 20, 2004


— Chan Ho Park made a mistake, and Juan Gonzalez made him pay.

Gonzalez hit a three-run homer against his former team, Jimmy Gobble held the Texas offense in check and the Kansas City Royals beat the Rangers, 5-3, Wednesday night.

Park retired Gonzalez on breaking pitches in his first three at-bats. But Park's 0-1 slider in the seventh was flat, and Gonzalez drove it into the left-field seats to extend Kansas City's lead to 5-1.

"My slider was working good except for that one pitch that really hurt," Park said. "I wasn't bad, but home runs hurt me a lot."

Gonzalez, signed as a free agent last winter to provide the Royals with power, had only four homers in his first 121 at-bats for Kansas City until Wednesday night's shot.

"Anytime he swings the bat, he can carry a ballclub," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "He's doing a lot of things different, but mostly he's being more selective at the plate and starting to get confidence."

Gonzalez, the Rangers' career leader in home runs and RBIs, has been taking extra swings in batting practice lately, trying to regain his power stroke.

"I respect everybody here in Texas, but we got the win," Gonzalez said. "I've been working on my mechanics and putting more weight on my back leg."

Gobble (2-2) yielded three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, helping the Royals earn their fifth road win this season and second in two nights.

"There's no question we've been waiting for this," Pena said.

Angel Berroa and Ken Harvey each added a solo shot for the Royals, who have six homers in the first two games of the three-game set. Kansas City entered the series with two homers in its previous four games.

Jaime Cerda retired Hank Blalock with two on to end the seventh, and Justin Huisman recorded six outs for his first major league save.

Park (2-4) surrendered five runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked four.

The Rangers, a big surprise early, lost their third in a row and have dropped five of six.

"It's hard not to press," Herbert Perry said. "We got spoiled. We'd been able to unleash the hounds early, and now we're not able to do that. But baseball is a funny game. We might go out and score 20 runs tomorrow."

Berroa's one-out homer in the third and Harvey's drive in the fourth gave Kansas City a 2-0 lead.

Blalock hit his 11th homer leading off the fourth.

In the seventh, Park walked Carlos Beltran and hit Mike Sweeney with a pitch, the third batter Park plunked in the game. Gonzalez's homer made it 5-1.

The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, chasing Gobble. Shawn Camp hit Gerald Laird with a pitch, forcing in a run, and Michael Young's sacrifice fly made it 5-3.

Notes: Park tied a club record with three hit batters: Sweeney, Matt Stairs and Benito Santiago. ... Gobble got off to a strong start, retiring the first eight Rangers before Laird's third-inning single. ... Desi Relaford was out of the Royals' starting lineup due to a strained left hamstring tendon and is day-to-day. ... Park has allowed 13 homers in eight starts. ... Park has hit eight batters this season.

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