Gil Meche was due for a clunker, probably, after going nine starts without a loss. And it figured to be the Texas Rangers doing the clunking.
It didn’t matter that the Rangers entered the game struggling every bit as much as the Royals. (Really. We’ll get to that.) All that mattered is they own Meche.
Fresh proof came in a 9-4 romp over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Meche gave up five runs in the first three innings, three coming a two-out homer by Nelson Cruz in a four-run third. Meche also allowed a career-high 14 hits before exiting with one out in the seventh.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Of course, that was too much.
Meche, 10-10, gave up five runs for the first time since June 5 and suffered his first loss since July 2.
The Rangers also got a homer from Chris Davis in a four-run eighth against Joel Peralta and Robinson Tejeda. They finished with 19 hits, including at least one from every starter in the lineup.
Milton Bradley went three for four with a sacrifice fly and had three RBIs, which boosted his season total to a career-high 68. He had 67 in 2004 for the Dodgers.
Texas starter Scott Feldman, 5-5, won for the first time since July 21 by limiting the Royals to three runs and eight hits in seven innings. Warner Madrigal work a scoreless eighth before Josh Rupe allowed one run in the ninth.
The Royals fell to 56-75 by losing for the 15th time in 18 games. They are now three games worse than last season through 131 games and trail fourth-place Cleveland by 7½ games.
It’s not like the Rangers came to Kauffman on a roll. They also had lost 14 of their last 17 before roughing up Meche and the Royals’ bullpen.
Meche is 4-9 in 16 career games against the Rangers with a 6.32 ERA. The nine losses are his most against any opponent, and the ERA is his highest against any team in which he has made more than one start.
He had never allowed more than 11 hits in any of his previous 209 big-league appearances.
The Royals finished with 11 hits. They got RBI singles from Alberto Callaspo, David DeJesus and Ross Gload. DeJesus had three hits and his 58th RBI matched a career high set last season.
The Rangers nicked Meche for one run in the first inning when Michael Young sliced a one-out single to right and scored on Bradley’s two-out double to left.
Meche stranded two runners in the second inning by inducing a two-out grounder by Joaquin Arias, but Texas mounted another threat in the third when Young and Josh Hamilton opened the inning with singles.
Bradley delivered a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
It quickly got worse.
Marlon Byrd pulled a two-out single into left, and Cruz, who joined the Rangers earlier in the day, rocked a 1-1 fastball over the right-field wall for a three-run homer.
That made 5-0.
Meche departed after yielding two singles in the seventh. Oddly, it came after 104 pitches _ the same number he made through seven innings last Wednesday in Cleveland. Manager Trey Hillman pulled Meche at that point, and the Royals blew a two-run lead in an 8-5 loss.
Peralta stranded both runners after replacing Meche in the seventh but opened the eighth by serving up a homer to Chris Davis. A single and a walk finished Peralta, who has allowed 15 homers in his 50 innings.
Tejeda allowed both inherited runners to score and one run of his own before ending the inning.