KANSAS CITY, Mo. –- The sixth inning turned in seemingly an instant. Seven straight two-out hits and seven runs changed a winnable game into an impossible obstacle.
The Kansas City Royals had just turned a two-run deficit into a five-run lead that the Orioles couldn’t overcome.
An 8-3 loss to the defending American League champions before 27,797 at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night was the Orioles fifth straight.
“It happened so fast you can’t even talk about it. That was a quick inning man. They were aggressive. They put up seven, in what, about 15 pitches?” Adam Jones said.
Ubaldo Jimenez had a two-run lead entering the sixth, and was a batter away from a quality start.
Eric Hosmer doubled off Jimenez (9-8) with one out in the sixth. After Kendrys Morales’ infield out, Mike Moustakas’ 14th home run tied the score at 3.
Salvador Perez’s infield single and Alex Rios’ double brought Omar Infante up. Infante hit a long drive to center, and as he slid into third with a two-run triple, Jonathan Schoop’s relay went into the Orioles dugout, and presto, it was 6-3.
After Alicides Escobar singled, Brad Brach replaced Jimenez. Brach allowed a single to Zobrist, who took second on a throw. Lorenzo Cain singled for two more runs, and Kansas City (76-48) led 8-3.
“That’s the tough thing about baseball, everything can change. We were one out away,” Jimenez said.
“I probably started leaving the ball a little bit up in the zone and they started putting a good swing on it. I don’t think the pitch to Moustakas was a bad pitch. That’s what I wanted to throw, the pitch up and in. The big mistake I made was 0-2 pitch to Infante, supposed to be up and in, I left it right down the middle.”
The seven runs and eight hits were a season high for an Orioles opponent.
“He was pitching well. He just started elevating some fastballs and they made him pay for it. He was really commanding the ball well and just didn't that inning,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Jimenez equaled a season-high by allowing seven runs on 10 hits. In eight post-All-Star Game starts, Jimenez has an ERA of 7.65.
“I’ve been struggling a little with my mechanics, but tonight I felt really good with it. It wasn’t about mechanics or anything it was just, made a couple mistakes that cost the game,” Jimenez said.
Kris Medlen (2-0) allowed three runs on five hits in six hits.
“The guy made some good pitches. We scored early, and we kept battling. They made some good pitches against us. We didn’t do too much after the fourth,” Schoop said.
Manny Machado hit Medlen’s first pitch to deep center. Lorenzo Cain appeared to catch it against the center field wall, but after a review, he was ruled to have dropped it and Machado was awarded a double.
Two batters later, Jones hit a long home run to left field, his 24th, and the Orioles (62-62) led 2-0.
Jimenez allowed two hits and a walk in his first two innings before Kansas City scored in the third on singles by Zobrist and Cain and a fielder’s choice by Hosmer.
The Orioles took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on Jones’ leadoff single and a one-out double by Steve Clevenger. That was the Orioles’ last hit.
Medlen retired his final seven batters, Franklin Morales set down six straight and Luke Hochevar worked a perfect ninth.
“You're a pitch away from getting out of there and he had been making it most of the night. I thought [Jimenez] was carrying a good, crisp fastball the whole game, but we had five hits. You always tip your hat to the opposition but you get a little tired of doing that,” Showalter said.
The Orioles are tied with Tampa Bay for third place in the AL East, seven games behind Toronto and New York, and they’re 2 ½ games behind Texas for the final wild card position.
With three more games against the Royals, who have the best record in the AL and three with Texas, the Orioles will continue to be challenged on this trip.
“We’re grown men, not kids. We can’t go around here and yell and scream at somebody like you do kids. Hey, we’re grown men. We know what we need to do. We know the objective. We know how to do it. We’re major league players. We’re the cream of the crop. So we just really just have to jell and get it done. There ain’t no other way,” Jones said.
NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez (9-9, 4.73) faces Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.18). … The Orioles are at .500 for the first time since July 27, and for the 15th time this season, third most in franchise history.