<
>

Gobble eats up Texas batters, allows three runs

5/20/2004

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Chan Ho Park made a mistake, and Juan
Gonzalez made him pay.

Gonzalez hit a three-run homer against his former team, Jimmy
Gobble held the Texas offense in check and the Kansas City Royals
beat the Rangers 5-3 Wednesday night.

Park retired Gonzalez on breaking pitches in his first three
at-bats. But Park's 0-1 slider in the seventh was flat, and
Gonzalez drove it into the left-field seats to extend Kansas City's
lead to 5-1.

"My slider was working good except for that one pitch that
really hurt," Park said. "I wasn't bad, but home runs hurt me a
lot."

Gonzalez, signed as a free agent last winter to provide the
Royals with power, had only four homers in his first 121 at-bats
for Kansas City until Wednesday night's shot.

"Anytime he swings the bat, he can carry a ballclub," Royals
manager Tony Pena said. "He's doing a lot of things different, but
mostly he's being more selective at the plate and starting to get
confidence."

Gonzalez, the Rangers' career leader in homers and RBI, has
been taking extra swings in batting practice, trying to regain his
power stroke.

"I respect everybody here in Texas, but we got the win,"
Gonzalez said. "I've been working on my mechanics and putting more
weight on my back leg."

Gobble (2-2) gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings,
helping the Royals earn their fifth road win this season and second
in two nights.

"There's no question we've been waiting for this," Pena said.

Angel Berroa and Ken Harvey each added a solo shot for the
Royals, who have six homers in the first two games of the
three-game set. Kansas City entered the series with two homers in
its previous four games.

Jaime Cerda retired Hank Blalock with two on to end the seventh,
and Justin Huisman got six outs for his first major league save.

Park (2-4) gave up five runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. He
struck out three and walked four.

The Rangers, a big surprise early, lost their third in a row and
have dropped five of six.

"It's hard not to press," Herbert Perry said. "We got
spoiled. We'd been able to unleash the hounds early, and now we're
not able to do that. But baseball is a funny game. We might go out
and score 20 runs tomorrow."

Berroa's one-out homer in the third and Harvey's drive in the
fourth gave Kansas City a 2-0 lead.

Blalock hit his 11th homer leading off the fourth.

In the seventh, Park walked Carlos Beltran and hit Mike Sweeney
with a pitch, the third batter Park plunked in the game. Gonzalez's
homer made it 5-1.

The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh,
chasing Gobble. Shawn Camp hit Gerald Laird with a pitch, forcing
in a run, and Michael Young's sacrifice fly made it 5-3.

Game notes
Park tied a club record with three hit batters: Sweeney,
Matt Stairs and Benito Santiago. ... Gobble got off to a strong
start, retiring the first eight Rangers before Laird's third-inning
single. ... Desi Relaford was out of the Royals' starting lineup
due to a strained left hamstring tendon and is day-to-day. ... Park
has allowed 13 homers in eight starts. ... Park has hit eight
batters this season.