Royals have lost 14 of last 16

BALTIMORE (AP) -- No rookie pitcher in the American League has
performed better this season than Daniel Cabrera, the Baltimore
Orioles' most consistent starter since being summoned from Double-A
in mid-May.

Cabrera allowed three hits over seven shutout innings and Rafael
Palmeiro hit his 541st career home run Saturday, leading the
Baltimore Orioles past the Kansas City Royals 7-2.

Starting in place of an injured Sidney Ponson, Cabrera (6-3)
didn't allow a runner past first base in beating Kansas City for
the second time in 11 days.

The 6-foot-7 rookie right-hander, who struck out five and walked
one, leads AL rookies in wins, ERA (2.90), opponents' batting
average (.220) and innings pitched (77 2/3).

His numbers are impressive enough, but it's his demeanor that
has grabbed the attention of Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli.

"That's the most impressive thing," Mazzilli said. "I think
he's just a very confident young man."

Cabrera was pitching for the Bowie Baysox before the Orioles
called him up as an emergency starter for a doubleheader on May 13
against the Chicago White Sox. He threw six shutout innings, which
turned out to be a sign of things to come.

"His fastball rises," Royals catcher John Buck said. "The
pitch I struck out on, I swore it was a fastball down the middle,
but by the time I swung it was up around my shoulders."

His success may come as a shock to the rest of the league, but
Cabrera has taken it all in stride.

"It's no surprise because I work hard every day," he said.
"When I give up a base hit I just try to be relaxed, throw strikes
and get a double play."

After throwing a double-play grounder to end the seventh, the
rookie departed after 92 pitches. The Orioles are trying not to
overwork the 23-year-old, who has never pitched more than 126
innings as a professional.

"It was a good time to take him out," Mazzilli said.

B.J. Ryan worked a perfect eighth, and Jorge Julio gave up Tony
Graffanino's sacrifice fly and Mike Sweeney's solo homer in the
ninth. The two runs enabled the Royals to avoid their fourth
shutout loss in five games.

"There was definitely a feeling in the dugout we didn't want to
take that again," Buck said. "If that's the way we've got to be
the rest of the season, spoil a shutout or spoil a series for a
team that needs to have a good series, that's what we're going to

Kansas City manager Tony Pena added: "At least nobody walked
around with their head down. I saw a lot of energy in that

Matt Stairs had two hits for the Royals, who have lost 14 of 16
while being outscored 110-39. Their lone wins during that span were
against Baltimore.

Luis Lopez had a season-high three hits, scored twice and drove
in a run for the Orioles, who snapped a three-game skid to avoid
falling 12 games under .500 for the first time this season.

The Orioles had scored only four runs in their last three games,
but Palmeiro jump-started Baltimore's slumbering offense in the
second inning against Mike Wood (1-2).

After Javy Lopez hit a leadoff single, Palmeiro hit a drive over
the right-field wall for his 13th homer. It was his 1,033rd
extra-base hit, moving him past Tris Speaker into sole possession
of 10th place on the career list.

Baltimore went up 5-0 in the fifth, scoring three runs with two
outs. Luis Lopez singled, took second on a walk and scored on a
single by David Newhan, who has hit safely in 21 of 22 games since
joining the Orioles on June 18.

Miguel Tejada then chased Wood with a two-run double that
boosted his team-leading RBI total to 73 -- a career record for the
first half.

Luis Lopez and Brian Roberts hit RBI doubles in the eighth
against Scott Sullivan.

Game notes
Palmeiro has 5,106 total bases, the 13th-highest total in
baseball history. ... Kansas City DH Ken Harvey got the day off.
He's hitless in his last 16 at-bats. ... The Royals are 9-27 in day
games, including 3-14 on the road.