Archive for Thursday, April 19, 2007

K.C. returns favor, rallies against Detroit

April 19, 2007


— The Kansas City Royals snatched away a victory from Detroit, one day after blowing a late lead themselves.

John Buck hit a leadoff homer in the 10th inning, and Kansas City rallied past the Tigers, 4-3, on Wednesday to end its six-game losing streak.

"That's a big win for us," manager Buddy Bell said, "especially after last night."

The Royals were leading after six innings Tuesday night before Detroit scored a run in both the seventh and eighth to win, 7-6.

Gil Meche didn't earn the victory in the series finale, but he gave the Royals a chance to come back from a 3-0 deficit. He didn't allow an earned run over eight innings, dropping his earned-run average to 2.22. He gave up six hits and three walks while striking out six.

"He's a great pitcher," Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman said after allowing one run in seven innings. "That's why he got the money he did."

Meche signed a $55 million, five-year contract with Kansas City in the offseason, and the team's losing streak weighed heavily on his mind before he went to the mound.

"That was on my mind from the time I tried to sleep last night," Meche said. "That's why they paid me to come here. I knew that going against Bonderman was going to be tough, and he pitched great. But we hung in there."

Mike Sweeney hit an RBI single in the seventh and Kansas City tied it with two runs in the ninth against closer Todd Jones.

"It was great to see us come back in the ninth against one of the top closers in the game," Bell said.

David DeJesus drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Mark Teahen's double. Sweeney's single put runners at the corners before Ross Gload beat out a potential double-play ball, allowing Teahen to score the tying run.

It was the first blown save in eight chances this year for Jones, who gave up his first runs of the season. He wasn't upset the game was tied on a play that was almost a double play, but he was disappointed in himself for walking DeJesus to start the inning.

"That's a cardinal sin," Jones said. "I don't have the stuff to get out of those jams anymore."

One inning later, Buck hit a 2-0 pitch from Fernando Rodney into the left-field seats.

Rodney (1-3) has struggled this season, giving up six runs in seven innings for a 7.71 ERA and taking the loss in half of Detroit's defeats.

"He's been out of whack for a little bit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We need him to be good to be successful."

Joakim Soria (1-0) struck out four in two scoreless innings for his first major league win. With a runner on first, he fanned Gary Sheffield and Carlos Guillen to end the game.

"Soria was great in the ninth and 10th," Meche said.

Detroit went ahead, 3-0, in the sixth with three unearned runs. Brandon Inge's walk and Curtis Granderson's bunt single left Meche in a two-on, none-out jam for the second time. He almost pitched out of it again.

Placido Polanco hit a grounder to third baseman Alex Gordon, who botched a possible double play by throwing wide of second base. Inge scored on the error.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Craig Monroe hit a two-run single to make it 3-0.

"I'll take the blame for the sixth," Meche said. "I made the first mistake on Granderson. I should have made the play on the bunt."

Kansas City (4-11) pulled within two in the seventh on Sweeney's RBI single. Joel Zumaya pitched a perfect eighth for Detroit, but Jones couldn't hold a 3-1 lead in the ninth.

"We put ourselves in a pretty good situation," Leyland said. "It looked like Todd was out of sync for the first batter because he doesn't walk people, and that's what got it started."

Bonderman allowed three hits, struck out six and didn't walk a batter. Despite a 2.25 ERA after four starts, he does not have a decision.

"It definitely bothers me," Bonderman said. "I want to win. I'm not satisfied with just going out and throwing. In my starts, we're 1-3 and that's not getting it done."

Notes: Meche hasn't given up an earned run in his last two starts, both no-decisions. ... Guillen received a letter from Major League Baseball, threatening to fine him $1,000 for having his pockets pulled out on the backside of his pants.


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