BALTIMORE -- The Royals marked their return to American League action Monday night with a rousing comeback in a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in 11 innings.
Miguel Olivo's two-out homer in the ninth pulled the Royals even after they once trailed 5-1. José Guillen's RBI single produced the game-winner in the 11th after the Orioles issued an intentional walk to Alex Gordon.
Once they had the lead, of course, the Royals handed the game to Joakim Soria, and the Mexicutioner calmly retired three straight hitters for his 22nd save in 23 opportunities.
Ron Mahay, 4-0, got the victory after working two scoreless innings.
Mike Aviles opened the 11th with an infield single against submariner Chad Bradford, 3-3, and went to second on Mark Grudzielanek's sacrifice bunt.
The Orioles chose to have Bradford issue an intentional walk to Gordon -- apparently to set up the force and gain a righty-righty matchup against Guillen.
That strategy blew up when Guillen collected his 61st RBI of the season by slicing an RBI single to right. The Royals blew the chance to pad their lead when Esteban German grounded into a double play.
It didn't matter, though. The Royals had a lead for Soria, who sandwiched two strikeouts around a soft grounder to second.
The Royals were down to their last strike when Olivo rocketed an 0-2 slider from Orioles closer George Sherrill over the left-field wall. It was the Royals’ first pinch homer since Grudzielanek hit one here on Sept. 24, 2007 in a 3-2 loss.
Olivo's blast capped a comeback against the Orioles’ bullpen and snatched a victory away from Brian Burres, who had limited the Royals to one run and five hits in five-plus innings.
It also took Zack Greinke off the hook for a loss after allowing five runs and seven hits in just five innings. He allowed only one run and two hits through four innings before getting roughed up in a four-run fifth.
Three of Baltimore's five hits came with two outs, and each produced a run. Greinke finished the inning, but that was it. The five-inning outing matched his shortest of the season.
Burres departed with that 5-1 lead after Mark Teahen's leadoff single in the sixth.
The Royals then scored twice against ex-Royal Ryan Buckvich before the inning ended and pulled to within 5-4 when Dennis Sarfate committed a balk with runners at first and third in the seventh.
Aviles nearly pulled the Royals even with a high drive to deep left with one out in the eighth against Jim Johnson, but the ball hooked foul. Aviles then struck out, and Johnson ended the inning by retiring Mark Grudzielanek on a close play at first.
That replays suggested Grudzielanek was safe only heightened the Royals' frustration. Sherrill retired the first two hitters in the ninth before Olivo tied the game with his ninth homer.
Sherrill’s blown save was his fifth in 31 opportunities.
It was night filled with almosts until Olivo’s crowd-quieting blast. The Royals had stranded 10 runners to that point, including five in scoring position.
Throw in some intermittent rain -- the start was delayed by 31 minutes, and the game finished in a drizzle -- and it all pointed to a miserable start to an eight-game road trip.
The game was the Royals' first against an AL opponent after 15 straight interleague games. They went 11-4 in those games despite losing Saturday and Sunday to the Cardinals.
The Royals opened the scoring after Joey Gathright worked a one-out walk in the third. He stole second with two outs and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Grudzielanek walked, and Gordon followed with an RBI double down the right-field line for a 1-0 lead. The Royals had a chance for more, but Guillen’s sharp grounder up the middle turned into the third out.
That was the first of too many missed chances.
The lead then evaporated three pitches into the Baltimore third when Hernandez hammered a 1-1 fastball over the right-field wall for his seventh home run. That was Greinke only mistake through the first four innings.
The Royals mounted a two-out threat in the fifth when Grudzielanek singled and Gordon walked. Guillen stranded both runners with a routine fly to center.
Adam Jones started the decisive four-run fifth by whacking a full-count slider into the right-center gap for a one-out triple. Alex Cintron followed with a one-hopper over the center-field wall for a RBI ground-rule double.
Greinke struck out Brian Roberts, but Nick Markakis punched a grounder up the middle past Grudzielanek for an RBI single. Aubrey Huff's hard liner to right seemed to fool Teahen and resulted in an RBI double.
Kevin Millar's single made it 5-1.