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Royals lose again to Baltimore, 7-4

It wasn’t total loss Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. American Idol finalist David Cook did a star turn in the seventh-inning stretch. Throw in some non-rainy weather, finally, and the usual Friday post-game fireworks. All very nice.

The Royals, though hoo-boy. Another loss to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-4 this time.

For starters, let’s just say Gil Meche didn’t build on the success of seven shutout innings in his last outing. He lasted just five innings this time and needed 98 pitches to do so.

Meche also squandered an early two-run lead by yielding no-doubt homers to Melvin Mora in the third and Aubrey Huff in the fifth.

Both came with two outs.

Huff’s blast was an absolute back-breaker. It came on a 1-2 curve that floated like a pumpkin into the hitting zone before getting a 405-foot ride into the right-field bullpen.

It followed an intentional walk to Nick Markakis; it broke a 2-2 tie; and the Royals never recovered.

The result was an 11th straight loss to the Orioles in a streak that extends to July 25, 2006. For some perspective, consider the non-head-to-head records of the two clubs since that time:

Royals 111-138; Orioles 101-147.

It gets worse.

That 11-game skid now includes two losses to veteran lefty Steve Trachsel, who entered Friday’s game with a career-threatening 7.43 ERA. But he again used the Royals as a lifeline, improving to 2-4 by allowing just two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

It, too, was nothing new.

Trachsel made two starts last year against the Royals. One resulted in his only complete game and, combined, he yielded just two runs in 16 innings.

Meche, 2-5, allowed five runs in five innings and saw his ERA climb to 6.31. It was disappointing reversal of form from his seven shutout innings last Sunday in Cleveland.

Alex Gordon drove in three of the Royals’ four runs with a two-run homer in the first and an RBI single in the seventh. In doing so, he took over the club lead in both categories with five and 18.

The Royals had chances in the latter innings. They loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on a walk by Traschsel and two more walks by reliever Matt Albers. Ross Gload killed that with a double play on one of his increasingly frequent ground balls to second.

Gordon’s two-out RBI single against Jamie Walker in the seventh put runners at first and second, but Jim Johnson retired Miguel Olivo on a fly to left.

George Sherrill opened the ninth by yielding a single and walk before pitching out of the jam for his 11th save in 13 opportunities.

The loss dropped the Royals to 15-20 overall and left them 1-4 at the midpoint of their season-long, 10-game homestand.

The Orioles, 18-18, finished with 12 hits, including two apiece by Markakis, Huff, Kevin Millar, Ramon Hernandez and Freddie Bynum. They got their final two runs in the seventh against Ron Mahay and Ramon Ramirez.

The Royals jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Gordon followed Mark Teahen’s one-out single with a 409-foot homer over the right-field wall. It was Gordon’s second homer in three games and fifth of the season.

José Guillen, back in the lineup, opened the second with a single _ his fourth straight hit. Gload’s grounder to short forced Guillen at second, but Gload took third on John Buck’s double to left. The Royals failed to cash to opportunity. Alberto Callaspo grounded to first with the infield in, and David DeJesus grounded out to second.

That missed opportunity turned costly when Meche surrendered Mora’s game-tying homer in the third. Bynum pulled a one-out double to right before Mora’s tagged a two-out homer into the left-field bullpen.

Bynum also ignited a three-run fifth with a leadoff single. Meche struck out Brian Roberts but committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt that enabled Bynum to reach second. That error prompted an intentional walk to Markakis to set up a matchup against Huff, who was three for 20 with seven strikeouts in his career against Meche.

That little bit of history pales, it seems, when matched against the Orioles’ overall domination. Huff crushed a 1-2 curveball for a three-run homer into the right-field bullpen.

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

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