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Archive for Sunday, June 25, 2006

Patience pays off for K.C. righty

Duckworth earns first victory in 26 months

June 25, 2006

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— The toughest part of these past two years and two months for Brandon Duckworth was probably the final 45 minutes Saturday night.

That's about how long he sat in the dugout as relievers threw clutch pitches and fielders turned in terrific plays, making his one-run lead hold up in the Kansas City Royals' 6-5 victory over the mistake-prone Milwaukee Brewers.

For Duckworth, it was his first major league win since he was with Houston and beat Colorado on April 24, 2004.

"You can just never give in, never give up," said the veteran right-hander, who was obtained on June 10 from Pittsburgh. "You've got to keep battling, battling, battling."

He got plenty of help. In Kansas City's five-run fourth inning, Milwaukee infielders Bill Hall and Corey Koskie made fielding errors on back-to-back plays, in effect giving the game away.

Brewers starter Doug Davis (4-5) was ready to shoulder at least a big part of the blame. After giving up Tony Graffanino's leadoff home run, he walked Doug Mientkiewicz and John Buck. Then Angel Berroa hit a grounder to short, but Hall never got control of the ball and the bases were loaded.

Esteban German followed with a grounder to third baseman Koskie, who fumbled the ball as Mientkiewicz scored. David DeJesus, who had three hits, then lashed a two-run double that tied the score at 5.

German scored the go-ahead run from third on Mark Grudzielanek's infield out to cap the scoring. Three of the five runs in the inning were unearned.

"I got the ground balls. But you walk two in a row, the defenders are on their heels," Davis said. "They don't have the best jump on the ball because they've been sitting there. It's just as much my fault as anybody's. From there, we just kind of gave the game away, it seemed like."

That wasn't exactly how Milwaukee manager Ned Yost saw it.

"They're big league infielders. They're paid to make those plays," Yost said. "And (the plays were) tough, yes. Billy had to range a long way and it was a tough hop on Corey."

Hall was replaced at short the next inning but not because of his error, Yost said.

"Billy got sick all of a sudden," he said. "The inning before, the stomach got upset and it just kept getting worse and worse on him out there. He felt like he was going to throw up and I think he said he was a little dizzy."

Duckworth (1-1) pitched five innings for the win, giving up five runs, 10 hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

Elmer Dessens pitched two hitless innings after relieving Duckworth with runners at first and third and nobody out in the sixth. Dessens got Brady Clark to hit into a fielder's choice to third baseman Graffanino, who threw home to get Damian Miller. Graffanino then saved a run after fumbling Rickie Weeks' grounder, flipping the ball backhanded for a force out at second, with Gabe Gross stopping at third. Koskie then grounded out to Dessens to end the inning.

"When you're playing well, that's what you have to do, take advantage of the other team's mistakes," said Graffanino. "We were able to do that again tonight."

Ambiorix Burgos got the last four outs for his 12th save in 18 opportunities.

The Brewers loaded the bases with two out in the fourth on two soft singles and a walk before Weeks lashed a two-run double to left-center. Koskie made it 5-1 with a two-run single but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

Davis went three innings and gave up six hits and six runs - three earned - with two walks and three strikeouts.

Berroa had an RBI single in the second and Carlos Lee tied it 1-1 with a sacrifice fly for the Brewers in the third.

Notes: The start of the game was delayed by rain for 51 minutes. ... Five-time All-Star Mike Sweeney said he plans to begin a rehab assignment next week at Double-A Wichita. Sweeney has been out since early May with a bulging disc. ... Three Milwaukee pitchers on the DL - RHP Tomo Ohka, LHP Jorge De La Rosa and two-time All-Star Ben Sheets - threw batting practice on Saturday. ... Royals C John Buck popped out in his first at-bat, halting his streak of reaching in consecutive plate appearances at 10, one short of the team record. ... Hall made a terrific play in the third when he stopped Grudzielanek's hard smash to his right and threw to second for a force out.

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