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Royals continue interleague surge with 8-4 victory over Rockies

This interleague stuff continues to fuel the Royals through a mid-June revival. They now own the best interleague record in baseball after whipping the Colorado Rockies 8-4 on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Mark Teahen’s three-run homer capped a four-run first inning that set the tone. José Guillen later added a pair of RBIs on a homer and his major-league-leading 28th double. Ross Gload even punctuated the scoring with a homer _ his first in 226 at-bats dating to last season.

Get the picture?

“It’s always beautiful,” Guillen said, “when you win.”

The Royals didn’t even need Joakim Soria, their ice-cool Mexicutioner, to close this one out. Dos Ramirez, Horacio and Ramon, wobbled a bit over the final two innings but protected the victory for Brian Bannister.

The Royals have now won eight of their last nine overall and their 10-3 interleague record is the best in baseball.

Bannister was at times dominant, wild and a bit lucky in improving to 7-6. He worked seven innings in which he allowed just three hits but matched a career high with six walks. He gave up three runs _ all unearned, thanks to a muffed catch by Esteban German in left _ but most definitely deserved.

“I like walks about as much as I like high gas prices,” Bannister said. “A walk is the worst thing in baseball for me, and I hate them.”

The key was the second inning. Bannister walked the first two hitters before loading the bases with a one-out walk. He escaped unharmed when Clint Barmes hit a room-service hop back to the mound.

Bannister turned it into a pitcher-catcher-first double play.

Colorado lefty Jeff Francis, 3-7, just didn’t have it. He gave up four runs in the first and exited after just 4 1/3 innings. He allowed seven runs, seven hits and saw his ERA jump to 5.65.

“It’s his fastball command more than anything else,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We weren’t able to get the ball in on some people we needed to get it in on him. Some left-handers did some damage onto him.”

None more than Teahen. His three-run homer turned a 1-0 lead into 4-0. It came on an 86-mph fastball that he sliced 397 feet over the left-field wall.

“I didn’t feel like I really got that,” he said. “I’ve had the feeling that I got the ball before and it didn’t go out. Tonight, I must have just stayed through it well.”

Teahen’s homer was his eighth of the season or one more than he had all of last year. Guillen’s two RBIs boosted his season total to 60 or just two shy of Emil Brown’s club-leading total in 2007.

Gload’s homer in the eighth against Luis Vizcaino was his first since last Sept. 3 at Texas. The Royals’ bench mock-snubbed Gload as he returned to the bench.

Yep, the Royals are having fun lately.

Bannister didn’t allow a hit until Garrett Atkins’ two-out RBI single in the fifth. When Matt Holliday followed with a booming homer to center, the Royals’ five-run lead was down to 5-3.

The Royals answered in their fifth. Mike Aviles, who had two more hits, led off with an infield single. Alex Gordon grounded into a fielder’s choice but scored all the way from first when Guillen drove an RBI double into the right-center gap.

Miguel Olivo battled Francis through a 10-pitch at-bat before snapping a zero-for-21 skid by yanking an RBI double into the left-field corner. That booted the lead to 7-3 and finished Francis.

Horacio Ramirez replaced Bannister in the eighth for his first appearance with the Royals and his first relief outing since Aug. 14, 2005 while with Atlanta.

It didn’t start well.

Holliday sliced a double to right before Ramirez threw a wild pitch up and in to Todd Helton. That allowed the Holliday to score when Helton grounded out to second.

Atkins pulled a single through the left side, which prompted Ramon Ramirez to begin warming up. Horacio Ramirez steadied at that point and struck out Brad Hawpe before Troy Tulowitzki grounded to short.

Ramon Ramirez pitched around a one-out single and a two-out wild pitch in a scoreless ninth. No nail-biting. No squirming. Just another victory.

“It’s nice to go out and think we’re going to catch the breaks instead of vice-versa, Teahen said. “When the breaks of the game start going your way, then it seems you put yourself in position to capitalize.”

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