BALTIMORE | Put another one in the let-it-get-away column.
The Royals built a three-run lead Tuesday night for Zack Greinke, and it wasn’t enough –- even against Baltimore’s struggling Orioles.
Yep, those Orioles, who possess baseball’s worst record, rallied back for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings at Camden Yards.
While Greinke did hand over a lead after seven innings, and the bullpen did blow a potential victory for the fourth time in his nine starts, he wasn’t simply sabotaged again through shaky relief work or a punchless attack.
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“I had a three-run lead and let them inch back in,” Greinke said. “I made it a lot tougher for everyone. One run is not, definitely, a guarantee that you can do anything with. So, I didn’t do my job either.”
Baltimore erased the deficit with two homers by Luke Scott against Greinke before pulling even in the eighth inning on Corey Patterson’s homer against Blake Wood.
The end came when Nick Markakis delivered a walk-off single with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th inning against Bryan Bullington.
It was Bullington’s first appearance since arriving Monday from Class AAA Omaha, where he compiled a 1.71 ERA in seven appearances.
“You want to be pitching in those situations,” he said. “That’s why you’re here but, obviously, I wanted a different result.”
Bullington, 0-1, retired the first hitter in the 10th before Julio Lugo singled through the left side. A walk to Patterson moved Lugo to second.
The Orioles loaded the bases when Bullington missed first base when taking the throw from first baseman Billy Butler on Cesar Izturis’ grounder to the right side. It was scored an error.
“I thought I was up against (the base),” Bullington said, “but anytime you reach for it again, he’s going to be safe. Obviously, I made a mistake.”
It proved costly when Markakis followed with a single that curled beyond a shallow-playing Mitch Maier in center field.
The Orioles scored the winning run after the Royals failed to cash a two-on, two-out opportunity in the top of the inning against Alfredo Simon. The threat ended when José Guillen struck out after fouling off five straight pitches.
The Royals, 15-25, can lament the lack of a clutch hit after stranding six runners over the final four innings. They are 3-2 since Ned Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager but could easily be 5-0. They blew a three-run lead in the seventh inning last Saturday in a 5-4 loss to Chicago at Kauffman Stadium.
Simon, 1-1, got the victory when the Orioles, 13-27, scored against Bullington.
The Royals went 13 up and down against Baltimore starter Kevin Millwood before rousing themselves for five singles in a three-run fifth inning.
Greinke gave two runs back on homers by Scott in the fifth and seventh innings. Still, he handed a 3-2 lead to Wood after seven innings.
Wood served up a one-out homer to Patterson in the eighth that tied the game. Wood had worked five scoreless innings in four previous appearances since arriving from Class AAA Omaha.
“I thought it was an OK pitch,” Wood said, “but it’s hard to tell. I thought it was down. Maybe it wasn’t as down as I thought it was. He hit it out. What can you say?”
Patterson’s homer meant no-decisions for Greinke and Millwood, who each remain snake-bit. Greinke is 1-4 despite a 2.72 ERA, while Millwood is 0-4 despite a 3.65 ERA.
Greinke allowed just four hits in his seven innings while striking out six and walking. Millwood gave up three runs and 10 hits in eight innings.
Millwood rolled through the first four innings in just 43 pitches. The streak reached 13 straight batters before Guillen grounded a one-out single up the middle in the fifth inning.
Maybe that opened a crack.
Millwood then surrendered singles to Alberto Callaspo, Maier, Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik before ending the inning. The result was three runs; the last coming on Podsednik’s two-out drag bunt.
Greinke with a three-run lead against the Orioles? Sounds golden, doesn’t it? He had allowed just one hit until Scott opened the Baltimore fifth with a 408-foot homer that sailed deep over the right-field wall.
Scott’s second homer was a two-out laser in the seventh inning that closed the gap to 3-2. Jones followed with a single, but Greinke ended the inning (and his night) by retiring Garrett Atkins on a fly to left.
The bullpen needed to get six outs, but a one-run cushion wasn’t enough.
“I attacked and just got beat,” Greinke said. “You can live with that. Same thing with Blake. He just got beat.”
So did the Royals. After building a three-run lead for the reigning Cy Young winner. Against the worst team in baseball.
To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.