Whatever the reason, the Kansas City Royals put their hitting
woes behind them during an uplifting weekend in Baltimore.
Sweeney went 4-for-6 with two homers and three RBI, keying a
17-hit attack that carried Kansas City to an 11-7 victory Sunday.
The Royals were coming off three straight shutout losses when
they arrived at Camden Yards on Friday, but they scored 20 runs in
three games against the last-place Orioles.
Their 11 runs Sunday were the most in one game since a 15-5
victory over Cleveland on April 20.
"It feels nice to score a couple of runs. We haven't been
playing good at all the last two or three weeks," Sweeney said.
"For us to come out and take two of three from Baltimore is huge.
Hopefully we can carry this momentum into the second half."
The resurgence of the Royals' offense could be attributed
heavily to the return of Sweeney, who went 8-for-15 with three
homers and eight RBI in the series after missing the previous six
games with a stiff back.
"He's come back strong after the injury," manager Tony Pena
said. "He's swinging the bat the best he has this year."
Despite winning its first series since June 22-24 against
Detroit, Kansas City reached the All-Star break with the fewest
wins (31) and lowest winning percentage (.365) in franchise
But this was not a day to reflect on the negative.
"It's a great way to the finish up the first half," winning
pitcher Jimmy Gobble said. "We come back with a homestand.
Hopefully we can get on a roll and go from there."
Gobble (5-6) pitched six innings of six-hit ball for the Royals,
who have lost 14 of 17. All three victories during the span were
against the Orioles.
Baltimore hasn't won a series at home since sweeping three games
from Cleveland on May 7-9. The Orioles fell to 37-48 -- their worst
record at the break since 1999 -- and dropped a season-high 17½
games out of first place.
"I don't like the way the weekend went," manager Lee Mazzilli
said, "but you can't throw in the towel right now. There's a long
way to go."
The Orioles went 8-19 in June and are 5-6 in July.
"Obviously everybody needs a break to get away from a little
bit," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "It's been a rough
couple of weeks."
The hit chased starter Rodrigo Lopez (6-6), who came in 2-0 with
a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.
After the bullpen yielded six runs, the Orioles closed the
weekend with a 5.08 ERA -- second-worst in the AL, ahead of only the
Kansas City made it 11-2 with a six-run seventh that began with
Sweeney and Matt Stairs hitting successive homers. Sweeney's homer
was his 16th, and third in two games.
Sweeney got the Royals started in the first, hitting a 2-1 pitch
an estimated 425 feet to dead center for a 1-0 lead.
His next hit didn't travel nearly as far, but was just as
important. With two outs and Desi Relaford on second, Sweeney
bounced an RBI single up the middle. Stairs followed with a double
to make it 3-0.
In the bottom half, Miguel Tejada scored Brian Roberts from
third with a groundout. David Newhan, who set up the run with a
double and hit an RBI single in the ninth, has hit safely in 22 of
23 games with Baltimore.
The Orioles closed to 3-2 in the fourth when Jerry Hairston
doubled and scored on a single by Jose Leon.
Sweeney is 6-for-9 lifetime against Lopez. ... Baltimore
relievers have allowed runs in 35 of their last 47 games. ...
Royals DH Ken Harvey went 0-for-5, and is hitless in his last 21