Royals’ skid reaches eight in 7-2 loss to Toronto

TORONTO | It’s eight losses in a row now for the Royals after they ventured into previously uncharted territory Monday afternoon by suffering a second straight four-game sweep in a bleak 7-2 surrender to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The quick summary:

Brett Tomko gave up four runs in the second inning, including a two-run homer to Gregg Zaun with two outs after shortstop Tony Peña couldn’t hold a throw from catcher Miguel Olivo to record what would have been the third out on Marco Scutaro’s steal of second base.

Coming back from a four-run deficit, right now for these Royals, is like trying to bend light with your hands. They were only saved from scoring fewer than two runs for the sixth time in eight games because the Blue Jays offered up a series of blunders in a two-run sixth.

It wasn’t nearly enough because, by then, Toronto had stretched its lead to 6-0. Scutaro then whacked a homer in the Blue Jays’ sixth for the game’s final run.

You get the idea.

The Royals are trying to stay positive. Manager Trey Hillman called a team meeting prior to the game in an effort to shake the doldrums.

There’s not much to say, though.

The Royals aren’t hitting, and that deficiency is wearing down what have been the club’s two primary strengths _ pitching and defense. Both show signs of cracking over the last week.

Tomko, 2-6, paid for an inability to limit damage in two innings. Zaun’s homer was a knockout blow, but Alex Rios made it 6-0 in the fifth by pumping a two-run double into the right-field corner.

Rios’ double came after first baseman Billy Butler’s first error of the season put runners at first and third with one out.

Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum, 5-3, was in complete control before starting the sixth by hitting two batters. Toronto’s failure to turn two routine double-play opportunities and a wild pitch helped the Royals score two runs without getting a hit.

That was the offense. The Royals finished with seven hits, all singles.

It’s a rare thing now for the Royals, after the multiple miseries of their recent history, to carve out new lows. But here they are: Never in their 40 years, until now, have they suffered successive four-game sweeps.

The slide started the previous Monday when Boston embarked on a four-game sweep at Fenway Park behind a no-hitter by Jon Lester. That was the first no-hitter against the Royals in nearly 34 years.

The eight straight losses are the most by the Royals since Sept. 17-26, 2006. The last skid longer than eight games was 13 losses from May 12-25, 2006.

There was another disturbing reminder of yesteryear: Several Royals lost track of the number of outs in the Toronto eighth and failed to move toward the dugout after completing an inning-ending double play.

Marcum yielded little beyond his wobble in the sixth, which is no surprise. The Excelsior Springs native has a 1.09 ERA in seven career appearances against his former hometown club after allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays, 28-25, used Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor closed out the victory.

Toronto scored the only runs it needed after Scott Rolen opened the second inning with a double over third. Rolen scored when Lyle Overbay bounced a one-out single through the right side. Overbay then raced to third on Scutaro’s hit-and-run single.

Brad Wilkerson made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly into the right-center gap before Scutaro stole second when Peña couldn’t hold Olivo’s throw.

Two pitches later, Zaun turned on a 94-mph fastball from Tomko and drove it over the right-field wall for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead.

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