BALTIMORE – For the first time since late July, the Orioles have won consecutive series. After winning two of three against the New York Yankees, they did the same against the Kansas City Royals, who own the American League’s best record.
The Orioles hit four home runs off Johnny Cueto, equaling the most he’s given up. In two starts off Cueto in the last 18 days, the Orioles scored 14 runs in 11 1/3 innings.
While the Orioles still are six games out of the second wild card spot, the 8-2 win over Kansas City before 22,496 at Oriole Park on Sunday night, was still gratifying.
Wei-Yin Chen (9-7) allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. It was just the second time in his last 11 starts he completed seven.
Chen said he was pleased by the outing.
“Yes, I am. Because I haven’t been pitching well for some period of time and during the past few games, my teammates were doing well. They were scoring runs, but I didn’t do my job well. Today they are still doing great and today I am happy that I can do my part of the job and win this game,” Chen said through his translator.
Jonathan Schoop had two home runs, Adam Jones and Chris Davis each had one.
Cueto (2-6), acquired by the Royals just before July’s trading deadline, has lost five straight.
Schoop is 4-for-5 against Cueto. He’s not sure why.
“I want to know, too. … I want to do that against every pitcher. I want to know,” Schoop said.
The Orioles (69-73) hadn’t won two straight series since late July when they took two of three from Tampa Bay and three straight from Atlanta.
“We have to keep the carrot out there. We got 20 games left and we’re going to try to win every one of them. If you watch the way our guys are going about their business, that’s their idea as much as mine,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“Today's the first time you get a little fall crispness in the air. Tonight was a reminder of what playing in the playoffs was like. It was dark when the game started. There was a certain feel to it. You're playing the team with the best record in the American League. It was good. Beat the Yankees two out of three and beat these guys two out of three."
In the first inning, Jones hit his 27th home run into the Orioles bullpen for a 3-0 lead.
The Royals (84-58) got two runs in the second on three two-out hits. Salvador Perez and Alex Rios doubled, and Alicdes Escobar singled, and it was 3-2.
Schoop led off the second with his 13th home run, and the Orioles led 4-2.
Schoop hit his 14th with one out in the fourth for a 5-2 lead.
Fourteen home runs in 69 games projects to over 30 home runs for a full season. Schoop missed nearly half the season with a right knee injury.
“I don't look at the numbers, like JJ [Hardy] teaches me. I try to be healthy, this year I wasn’t heathy all the way. But everyone tells me, get healthy and at the end of the season your numbers are going to be there. I know I’ve got 14 home runs but I don't want to think about it like I can be a 30 guy. I just want it to happen,” Schoop said.
Davis hit his 42nd home run, the fourth off Cueto, equaling the right-hander’s career high.
The Orioles added two runs in the seventh. Hardy, who had doubled to lead off the inning, scored when second baseman Ben Zobrist dropped Mike Moustakas’ throw and Jones drove in his fourth run with a double.
Cueto was charged with eight runs, seven earned in 6 1/3 innings.
With 20 games left and trailing Texas for the second wild card by four, the Orioles remain alive.
“We’re not mathematically eliminated, so there’s still something to play for,” Jones said.
Schoop is cognizant of the standings, too.
“We went through a tough stretch, losing a lot of games but we’re still in there. We have, what, 20, 21 games? We’re going to play hard because we’re hungry. We want to get to the playoffs. We got a taste last year of what it feels like so we want to be there again,” Schoop said.
NOTES: It was Schoop’s second two home run game. ... Norfolk tied its playoff series with Columbus at two games apiece with a 6-5 win over the Clippers. The decisive fifth game is Monday night in Columbus. … The Orioles and Boston Red Sox begin a three-game series on Monday night. Eduardo Rodriguez (9-5, 4.05) faces Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.33).
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