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Royals end skid with 8-4 victory over Toronto

The losing streak was going to end at some point. They all end eventually. No team knows that better in recent years than the Royals. How it ended Friday night, though, was remarkable stuff.

The Royals scored six runs in the eighth inning in rallying for an 8-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals, remember, had not scored more than six runs in any of their previous 22 games.

Yes, the Blue Jays fueled their explosion with a costly error by shortstop David Eckstein on a potential double-play grounder that could have limited the damage to one run.

The Royals, 10-13, didn’t care, of course. All that mattered is their losing streak ended at seven games. The Blue Jays, 10-14, have now lost five in a row.

It was a stunning turnaround. Toronto had just taken a 4-2 in the top of the eighth by scoring three times against reliever Leo Nuñez, who had not allowed a run this season in nine innings over eight previous appearances.

Nuñez’s struggles snatched a victory from Zack Greinke, who had limited the Blue Jays to one run in seven innings. Nuñez instead got the victory and improved to 2-0.

Toronto starter A.J. Burnett, 2-2, was the tough-luck loser. He gave up five runs in 7 1/3 innings, but only three were earned.

The Royals suffered two seven-game skids in 2007 but haven’t lost eight in a row since Sept. 17-26, 2006. The last time they lost more than eight straight was a 13-game streak from May 12-26, 2006.

José Guillen started the comeback with a one-out single through the right side. Burnett then walked Mark Teahen before Billy Butler pulled an RBI single into left field. Teahen raced to third on the play. That finished Burnett.

Reliever Scott Downs got Ross Gload to hit a weak comebacker to the mound. It should have been an inning-ending double play, and Downs made a strong throw to second.

Eckstein dropped the ball. Teahen scored the tying run, and the Royals had runners at first and second. It was Eckstein’s second error of the game.

John Buck followed with a line-hugging single past third that scored pinch-runner Esteban German and sent Gload to third. Buck moved to second on the throw. An intentional walk to Tony Peña -- the second in his career -- loaded the bases.

David DeJesus followed with a two-run single into center for a 7-4 lead. Alberto Callaspo’s RBI single closed the scoring.

Joakim Soria closed out the victory in a non-save situation by getting three quick ground-ball outs in the ninth.

The Royals finished with 11 hits, including two each by DeJesus and Buck. DeJesus drove in three runs. He also had an RBI single in the seventh, which gave the Royals a short-lived 2-1 lead. The Royals ended a 15-inning scoreless drought after Gload’s leadoff double in the fifth. Gload went to third on a wild pitch _ a swinging strike by Buck-- but Buck then delivered an RBI double that landed just fair down the right-field line.

The Blue Jays got even when Lyle Overbay jumped on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the seventh. He drove the ball 398 feet over the right-field wall for his first homer of the year.

The Royals took advantage of a Toronto mistake in regaining the lead but made a base-running blunder that ruined the chance for a bigger inning.

Buck reached on Eckstein’s one-out throwing error and went to second when Peña rolled a single through the right side.

DeJesus punched an RBI single up the middle for a 2-1 lead as Peña took third, although center fielder Vernon Wells appeared to have a play at third.

Burnett threw a wild pitch that allowed DeJesus to reach second, but catcher Rod Barajas made a strong throw to third that nailed Peña for the second out. Burnett escaped further trouble by retiring Callaspo on a grounder to third.

Peña’s mistake quickly proved costly when the Blue Jays roughed up Nuñez in the eighth.

Aaron Hill sliced a one-out single through the left side and went to third when Alex Rios lined a single to left. Guillen tried to make a play on Hill at third, which enabled Rios to reach second.

Hill scored the tying run on Vernon Wells’ single to short before Nuñez hit ex-teammate Matt Stairs with a pitch. Rolen then pulled a two-run double into the left-center gap for a 4-2 lead.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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