BALTIMORE -- That dramatic comeback Monday night, perhaps, filled the Royals with the sort of bulletproof confidence more often associated with a long night in the Power & Light District.
That would explain why they spent the early innings Tuesday as if determined to build another big deficit to overcome. This time, their comeback fell short in a 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
There were chances, even after falling into a 6-1 hole through three innings. The Royals stranded six runners from the fifth through seventh innings despite mixing in a killer double-play grounder from Mike Aviles.
The line for loser Luke Hochevar, 5-6, shows he allowed six runs in six innings -- and he merits some blame, certainly, for allowing a walk and two two-out hits in a four-run third after he should have been out of the inning.
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That said -- he should have been out of the inning.
Aviles has been a glorious surprise and a steady producer since becoming the regular shortstop nearly four weeks ago. So he’s earned a mulligan.
This one might count as two, though. Aviles committed two costly defensive misplays and went zero for five and stranded eight runners.
That's a bad day.
Orioles starter Radhames Liz gave up two homers, including a boomer by Alex Gordon in the first inning, but improved to 3-0 by limiting the Royals to three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Adam Loewen scrambled through two scoreless innings before Dennis Sarfate mucked things up in the ninth by issuing a couple of walks. That brought closer George Sherrill into the game.
It was Sherrill who served up Miguel Olivo's two-out homer in the ninth on Monday, when the Royals overcame a 5-1 deficit for a 6-5 victory in 11 innings.
This time, Sherrill made it through -- barely. He yielded a two-run single to Mark Grudzielanek before securing his 27th save in 32 opportunities.
The loss snapped the Royals' six-game road winning streak
Gordon's two-out homer, a 425-foot drive on a 1-0 fastball, staked Hochevar to a 1-0 lead. Gordon's blast, his 11th of the season, sailed onto Eutaw Street beyond the right-field wall.
Impressive stuff. What followed was mostly forgettable.
The lead lasted only long enough for Brian Roberts to open the Baltimore first with a walk, steal second, go to third on Nick Markakis' grounder to first and score on Aubrey Huff’s hopper through a drawn-in infield.
The real mistakes started after Hochevar hit Adam Jones with two outs in the second. Brandon Fahey followed with a slicing drive to left. When José Guillen fumbled the ball, third-base coach Juan Samuel waved Jones home.
Guillen's relay reached Aviles in p-l-e-n-t-y of time for a play at the plate, but Aviles didn’t look home and, apparently, wasn’t prompted to do so by teammates. That delay allowed Jones to score the go-ahead run.
That was just the warm-up act.
The bigger defensive breakdown came in the third at a cost of four runs that boosted Baltimore’s lead to 6-1. Markakis led off with a single and went to second on Huff's grounder to third.
Trouble blossomed when Markakis strayed a few steps away from second on Kevin Millar's routine grounder to short. That prompted Aviles to throw behind the runner.
Markakis scrambled back safely before Grudzielanek could even reach the base, and Millar beat Grudzielanek's throw to first. That meant Luke Scott's grounder to first resulted only in the second out instead of the third out.
The Orioles capitalized on the extra out.
Melvin Mora drew a walk that loaded the bases before Ramon Hernandez lined a two-run single to left and took second on the throw home. Jones followed with a two-run single through the right side and it was 6-1.
The Royals began stirring in the fifth.
Mark Teahen led off with a first-pitch homer over the center-field wall. Billy Butler and Ross Gload followed with singles. Liz dodged a bullet when Miguel Olivo’s line drive was right at Scott in left, but Joey Gathright loaded the bases with a soft single into center.
The Royals got nothing more.
Aviles’ miserable night continued with a fly to short center -- too short to score Butler. Grudzielanek ended the threat with a soft liner to second.
The Royals pulled still closer in the sixth after Gordon led off with a double. Teahen's sacrifice fly made it 6-3 before the Orioles got a leadoff homer from Roberts in the seventh against reliever Jimmy Gobble.