Reeling Orioles lose sixth straight, fall below .500 for first time since July 26
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is no one thing that Orioles manager Buck Showalter can point to when it comes to understanding why his once-soaring club has suddenly lost six straight games.
Sometimes, the offense goes flat. Once in a while, the pitching and defense are to blame.
"Always takes a little bit of everything," he said after a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. Everybody wants to throw one big circle around one thing. It's a lot of things. A lot of things. And you can't (borrow) from Peter to pay Paul in this game."
While pitching and defense were to blame in an 8-3 series-opening loss, it was a letdown by the offense that ruined the Orioles' chances Tuesday night. Manny Machado was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, the team managed seven hits total, and eight runners were stranded on base.
The Orioles (62-63) are now below .500 for the first time since they were 48-49 on July 26.
"We've got to create more opportunities," Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph said. "It's tough when you get runners on base one or two times an inning, every game. They're creating sawdust in the batter's box trying to get the guy in. It's not for lack of effort. Everybody in the clubhouse is working their tails off trying to make a push here."
Kendrys Morales hit a solo homer, and Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer also drove in runs for the Royals, who are trending the other direction with their fourth straight win.
Danny Duffy (7-6) dodged trouble for most of 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. The left-hander struck out five in a start that began in crisp efficiency and ended with the Orioles threatening to pull ahead in the sixth inning.
Luke Hochevar calmed things down with an inning of relief, though. Kelvin Herrera had no trouble with the rest of the seventh and eighth, and Wade Davis pitched a perfect ninth in place of closer Greg Holland to earn his 12th save.
Miguel Gonzalez (9-10) allowed all three runs on six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings, the latest in a string of lousy starts for Baltimore. Gonzalez is 0-4 in his last six tries.
"It's been rough ever since I came back from the disabled list," said Gonzalez, who missed time with a groin injury. "But sometimes the game's not fair, and it's a game of failure.
"You've just got to stay focused and not think too much when you're out there," he said. "I think that's been the main point for me this year, the second half."
The Royals never trailed after Morales sent a 3-2 pitch into the fountains in right field in the second inning. Hosmer added an RBI groundout in the third, and Moustakas delivered yet another two-out single by the league's best-hitting team in such situations to score another run.
The Orioles got two runs back in the fourth when Matt Wieters drew a two-out walk and Steve Pearce, Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph strung together a trio of singles. But Duffy managed to get recently called up Paul Janish to ground out to end the threat.
Duffy was in trouble again in the sixth, but Hochevar got Joseph to fly out to deep right field to leave runners on second and third and preserve the 3-2 lead.
It was up to one of the best bullpens in the majors to take care of the rest.
"They did an awesome job," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's what they do."
Yost managed his 900th game with the Royals. He is now 450-450. "I guess it's cool," he said, pointing out that at one point he was 53 games under .500. "The last two years we've won a bunch of baseball games with a really good group of guys."
Orioles: C Steve Clevenger went on the three-day paternity list to attend the birth of his daughter. Peyton Lee was born Tuesday afternoon.
Royals: Yost said there is still no timetable for OF Alex Gordon to return from his rehab stint at Triple-A Omaha. Gordon had been out with a groin injury.
Orioles: LHP Wei-Yin Chen tries to keep his unbeaten streak intact Wednesday night. He is 3-0 with three no-decisions since July 21.
Royals: RHP Johnny Cueto makes his sixth start since being traded to Kansas City. He is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA since leaving the Reds.