Ever been to a great party that somehow, suddenly, went all wrong? The Royals threw one of those buzz-killers Friday night in a 9-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Here they were, fresh off a sweep in St. Louis that completed a restorative road trip. Back home in front of a sellout crowd, swelled by the promise of a memorable fireworks display.
On cue, they jumped to a 4-0 lead, which seemed plenty on a gorgeous night when right-hander Luke Hochevar had the Giants pounding his sinker into the ground for out after out.
Then it went all wrong.
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Soon the lead evaporated. Then Hochevar was out of the game. Soon Yasuhiko Yabuta was loading the bases with a pair of two-out walks in the sixth. All of which resulted in rookie Carlos Rosa being on the mound, for just his second big-league appearance, with the bases loaded against veteran Ray Durham.
It was a mismatch.
Durham rammed a three-run double into the right-field corner, and the Giants led 7-4. Randy Winn followed with a line-drive double to right, and it was 8-4.
Turn out the lights.
Giants starter Matt Cain, 4-5, got the victory by steadying after a rocky three-run first inning. He allowed just one more run in his eight innings and held the Royals to a mere five hits.
The loss kept the Royals from posting their first six-game winning streak since they opened the 2003 season with nine straight victories.
The Giants finished with 14 hits, including three by Durham, who left the game after scoring in the sixth because of a mild sprain of his right ankle. Every Giants starter had at least one hit except Omar Vizquel, and he drew two rally-fueling walks.
Cain allowed just two singles after the first inning. Jack Taschner and Tyler Walker closed out the victory in the ninth. Yabuta, 1-3, got the loss.
This one got away from the Royals with surprising speed.
They took a 3-0 lead in the first on a two-run double by José Guillen and an RBI single by Mark Grudzielanek. Mike Aviles’ sacrifice fly extended the lead to 4-0 in the third.
Hochevar was in top form early with his sinker helping to produce seven ground balls in the first three innings. But he squandered that 4-0 lead by allowing two runs in the fourth and exited with two outs in the fifth after yielding two more runs.
The early exit broke a 10-game streak by the Royals’ starters of pitching at least six innings. Yabuta closed out the fifth and got two quick outs in the fifth before allowing an infield single and issuing two walks.
In came Rosa, whose only previous big-league appearance came last Saturday when he pitched one inning in closing out a 12-3 victory at Arizona. He is a promising 23-year-old with a mid-90s fastball, sharp curve and good changeup.
It was a lot to ask, though. Durham is a 14-year veteran and, possibly, the toughest out in the Giants’ lineup. Rosa came with six straight fastballs. Durham took the first two for balls, the second two for strikes and fouled off the fifth.
The sixth, Durham rocketed into right-field corner. It was a knockout blow. The crowd stayed around, though. Nice fireworks.