Markakis lifts O's over Royals with homer in makeup game

BALTIMORE (AP) -- In a season filled with negatives, the Baltimore Orioles can perhaps derive a bit of consolation from one noteworthy accomplishment: They never lost to the Kansas City Royals.

Nick Markakis hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and the Orioles completed a season sweep of the Royals with a 3-2 victory Monday night.

Baltimore went 7-0 against Kansas City. It's only the sixth time in club history that Baltimore swept a season series from an AL opponent.

The Orioles are assured a 10th straight losing season, and they still have a chance to finish in last place in the AL East. But they sure knew how to handle the Royals.

"They scored more runs than we have," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said with no small degree of irritation.

The game was a makeup of a rainout on April 15. The announced attendance was 15,769, but there were no more than a few thousand fans in the stands.

Bell wasn't exactly thrilled about leaving Detroit for Baltimore before going to Chicago in the span of three days. He was less enamored with playing at night.

"I'm still trying to figure out why we didn't play a day game," Bell said before the game.

The Orioles probably would have preferred a day off, but they played hard anyway.

"This is the final week for us at home, and it's a good way to get it started," manager Dave Trembley said. "I thought the guys showed a lot of hustle tonight. They played hard. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the first inning."

Markakis hit his 22nd homer on an 0-1 pitch from Gil Meche (9-13), who allowed seven hits in his first complete game of the season.

Markakis struck out twice and hit a weak grounder to second base before driving a curveball over the center-field wall.

"I was a bit frustrated my first two at-bats, but I was able to see all his pitches, and then in my last at-bat I was able to put a pretty good swing on it," Markakis said.

Said Meche: "He hit a great pitch. I don't remember the last time I've seen a guy hit my curveball that hard. He was sitting on it, and he got it."

Meche struck out five and walked one in his second loss to Baltimore this season.

"Gil pitched great. We scored two runs. You're not going to win a lot of games doing that," Bell said.

Kansas City trailed 2-1 in the eighth before Mark Grudzielanek tied it with his first career pinch-hit home run in 1,682 major league games. The drive came against Jamie Walker (3-2), who was making his club-record 80th appearance of the season.

Chad Bradford pitched the ninth for his second save.

Returning from a six-game suspension, Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. He left with a 2-1 lead, but the no-decision made the right-hander 0-5 in seven starts since Aug. 14.

Cabrera was suspended for his actions in a game against Boston on Sept. 7, when he threw a pitch at Dustin Pedroia and had to be restrained by umpires and teammates as both dugouts emptied.

Meche retired 11 straight batters before Ramon Hernandez hit a one-out single in the fifth. One out later, Tike Redman delivered an RBI double for a 1-0 lead, and Brian Roberts walked before Melvin Mora singled in a run.

The Royals got a run in the sixth when Esteban German singled and scored on a two-out double by Mark Teahen.

The victory enabled the Orioles to move three games ahead of last-place Tampa Bay in the AL East. Kansas City, bidding to avoid a last-place finish for a fourth straight season, fell a game behind fourth-place Chicago in the AL Central.

Game notes
KC's Billy Butler went 0-for-4, ending his career-high 10-game hitting streak. ... Kevin Millar went 0-for-4 against Meche and is 1-for-21 lifetime against him. ... Baltimore RHP Jeremy Guthrie, sidelined since Sept. 9 with a strained muscle in his rib cage, will start Thursday against Toronto.