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Royals go quietly in 4-1 loss to Orioles

What is it about the Baltimore Orioles, in general, and Daniel Cabrera, in particular, that brings out the worst in the Royals?

It happened again Thursday night when Baltimore slapped down the Royals 4-1 in the first of a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium. In doing so, the Orioles broke a five-game skid and beat the Royals for the 10th straight time.

That’s right, 10 in a row. The Orioles.

Cabrera has always oozed potential but his inconsistency has often been maddening to the Orioles. His career record is seven games below .500 and his ERA continues to hover around 5.00.

Sure, he’s been on a roll lately. But he always seems in All-Star form against the Royals. He is now 4-0 in seven career starts with a 2.25 ERA.

Lots of consistency there.

Cabrera, 3-1, limited the Royals to just three hits in an overpowering 116-pitch performance. He allowed only two fly-ball outs while striking out five and walking just one. It was the fifth complete game of his career.

Royals starter Luke Hochevar, 2-2, paid dearly for one really bad pitch _ an off-speed floater to Nick Markakis in the third inning. The result was a three-run bomb that expanded a 1-0 lead to 4-0.

Otherwise, Hochevar was solid in holding the Orioles to four runs and five hits in seven innings. Joakim Soria endured his first rough outing when he yielded a single and hit two batters in the ninth in a stay-sharp appearance, but Joel Peralta stranded all three runners.

This is getting old, really.

The Royals haven’t beaten Baltimore since July 25, 2006, when they rallied for a 7-5 victory behind Mark Redman at Kauffman. Last year’s Orioles lost 93 games -- same as the Royals -- but went 7-0 in the season series.

Another depressing sidenote: The Royals also had two errors for only the second time this season in 34 games. Hochevar mishandled a throw in the first inning, and third baseman Alex Gordon booted Kevin Millar’s slow roller in the sixth.

The two errors dropped the Royals into a tie with the Angels for the fewest among American League teams with 15.

The Orioles, in addition to their five-game skid, had been struggling to score almost as much as the Royals, mustering just 32 runs in their previous 11 games. Four were plenty for Cabrera.

Hochevar got two quick outs in the first inning before running into trouble by walking Markakis, who raced to third on Aubrey Huff’s slow-roller single up the middle. A wild pitch scored Markakis.

It got a lot worse in the third.

Freddie Bynum led off with a single and went to second on a strike-three wild pitch to Brian Roberts. Melvin Mora walked before Markakis rammed a three-run homer over the center-field wall.

It was Markakis’ seventh homer and, that quickly, it was 4-0.

The Royals’ attack consisted solely of Gordon’s two-out double in the first inning until Ross Gload’s two-out single in the fifth. In-between, Cabrera retired 12 in a row.

But John Buck worked back from an 0-2 count for a walk, and Tony Peña followed with slicing RBI single to right. Cabrera avoided further damage by retiring David DeJesus on a grounder to second.

Cabrera closed strong, too. That grounder by DeJesus was the first of 13 straight outs to conclude the game.

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

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