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Royals' skid hits seven in 3-1 loss to Blue Jays

TORONTO | It’s all coming apart right now for the Royals, whose losing streak hit seven games Sunday in a 3-1 setback to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Royals wasted a 10-hit attack, in part, by twice getting thrown out from the outfield, getting caught stealing on a swinging strike and grounding into a double play.

There was also the sheer inefficiency of failing to produce a hit when they needed it most.

Wasted also was another fine outing by Gil Meche, who is now 3-7 despite producing quality starts in five of his last six outings.

Yep, it’s a mess.

Toronto starter Dustin McGowan, 3-4, showed none of his usual wildness — or the Royals were too impatient to let his do so. Take your pick.

Either way, McGowan allowed no walks in seven innings after serving up nine over 11 1/3 innings in his two previous starts. He also limited the Royals to one run by scattering nine hits before Toronto went to the bullpen.

Scott Downs pitched around a two-out single in the eighth before B.J. Ryan worked a scoreless ninth for his 11th save in 11 opportunities. At least the Blue Jays, 27-25, finally needed their bullpen after getting complete games from Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch in their series’ first two games. Toronto goes for a sweep in the four-game set at 11:37 a.m. Central time Monday.

Meche gave up two runs and five hits in six innings.

The Royals fell to 21-29, and their seven-game skid matches their longest of the season. They also lost seven in a row from April 17-24. Shannon Stewart opened the Toronto first with a squib single that eluded Meche, and that turned into the game’s first run when Scott Rolen pumped a two-out RBI double into the left-center gap.

The Royals threatened in the fourth after José Guillen shot a one-out double past first. Guillen tried to score when Billy Butler followed with a single up the middle, but center fielder Alex Rios threw a strike to the plate that nailed Guillen.

The fifth presented the Royals with the opportunity for a big inning after they loaded the bases with no outs. Ross Gload led off with a single before Tony Peña and Joey Gathright reached on bunt singles when attempting to put down sacrifice bunt.

Gathright’s bunt came with two strikes, and he simply out-ran the throw of catcher Rod Barajas.

David DeJesus followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left, which tied the score, but Peña couldn’t beat Stewart’s throw in attempting to reach third. The inning ended when Esteban German struck out with Gathright at second.

The Blue Jays wasted no time in regaining the lead

Brad Wilkerson opened the Toronto fifth with a slicing double that curled away from DeJesus into the left-field corner. Wilkerson went to third on Barajas’ single through the right side and scored on Stewart’s fielder’s-choice grounder to short.

The Blue Jays extended their lead to 3-1 in the seventh against Ramon Ramirez after the Royals failed to turn a potential inning-ending double play. Toronto had runners at first and second with one out when Aaron Hill hit a sharp grounder to third.

Alex Gordon bobbled the ball, and the Royals had to settle for just one out at second. Rios followed with a two-out RBI single into center.

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

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