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Royals win first opener in five seasons

3/31/2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The young Kansas City Royals were hoping for this kind of start.

Runelvys Hernandez allowed two hits in six innings and rookie
Angel Berroa drove in the go-ahead run as the Royals beat the
Chicago White Sox 3-0 Monday -- Kansas City's first Opening-Day win
in five years.

Kansas City got key contributions from its rookies: Mike
MacDougal pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to complete a three-hitter,
designated hitter Ken Harvey doubled twice and Berroa made a fine
defensive play at shortstop in the ninth inning.

"We have a lot of young guys, no doubt about that,'' Harvey
said. "But us young guys have proven ourselves in the minor
leagues. Once we get over being in awe of the major leagues, we'll
be fine.''

Hernandez, given the Opening-Day start over Jeremy Affeldt by
winning a coin flip, struck out five and walked only one.

"I feel so great, so very, very happy about that,'' said the
24-year-old right-hander, 4-4 last year as a rookie. "They have
confidence about me and I don't want to lose that.''

Jason Grimsley gave up one hit in two innings, and the sellout
crowd stood for MacDougal, who threw a called third strike past
Frank Thomas for the second out.

"Their young kids pitched well,'' said Thomas, who was also
thrown out at the plate by third baseman Joe Randa in the seventh.

"Hernandez hit his spots. We were all shocked he threw four
pitches for strikes. He did whatever he wanted and we started
chasing.''

A sellout crowd of 40,302 was at Kauffman Stadium, and the
temperature was 73 at gametime. A stealth bomber flew over the
stadium after the national anthem.

Mark Buehrle, 19-12 last year, became the first left-hander to
make consecutive opening-day starts for the White Sox since Wilbur
Wood from 1972-76. Buehrle gave up two runs and six hits in seven
innings.

"Tip your hat to Hernandez,'' Buehrle said. "Except for one
inning, I settled down.''

Chicago, expected to contend for the AL Central title, opened on
the road for the 13th consecutive season.

Kansas City, coming off a 62-100 season, went ahead in the
second. Brandon Berger, given the start in right field because half
of his eight career homers have come off Buehrle, walked and went
to third Harvey's first double.

Berroa singled and Brent Mayne followed with an RBI double _
with Berroa out at the plate on a strong relay throw from second
baseman D'Angelo Jimenez.

Mike Sweeney doubled in the eighth, went to third on a passed
ball and scored on Tom Gordon's wild pitch.

Harvey was cut down at the plate in the sixth by third baseman
Joe Crede.

Game notes
The White Sox won last year's series 11-8, outscoring
Kansas City 83-19 in their 11 wins. ... Aaron Rowand made a good
play in center, diving to snare Randa's drive with two outs in the
seventh. ... Sweeney is wearing a "C'' on his uniform as the
Royals' captain.