The Baltimore Orioles will get back to work rather quickly this afternoon in the back end of a two-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
The Orioles got a big lift from outfielder Adam Jones in last night's 4-3 win in 15 innings, as the slugger belted a solo home run in the top of the 15th inning to put his team up for good. Jones didn't have a great day at the plate, going 1-for-7, but his final at-bat made all the difference.
"Fifteen innings? That's a long game, man," said Jones. "But it starts with our pitchers. They give us the opportunity."
J.J. Hardy added three hits with an RBI and Wilson Betemit homered for the Orioles, who have won two in a row and four of six. Baltimore is tied for the AL East lead with Tampa Bay and improved to 10-4 this month.
Kevin Gregg tossed a scoreless 14th frame for the win, and Jim Johnson locked it down in the bottom of the 15th for his 13th save. O's starter Tommy Hunter allowed seven hits and two runs over seven innings.
The Orioles, who are unbeaten in six straight road games and own an MLB-best 12-5 record as the guest, will also visit Washington for three contests on this five-game trek.
Brian Matusz was able to get back on track in his most recent start and will take the mound again today for the O's. Matusz was 1-4 in six starts before squeezing out a win over Tampa Bay on Saturday. He was reached for three runs -- two earned -- in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-3 triumph to improve to 2-4 in seven starts to go along with a 5.50 ERA.
Matusz, a lefty, is 1-2 in three starts away from Camden Yards this season and will make his second career start against the Royals. In a 6-5 win at Kansas City on July 29, 2010, Matusz did not record a decision and yielded five runs in 3 1/3 innings of work.
Kansas City hopes to get back on track Thursday and had won four straight and six of seven games until Jones' home run in last night's loss.
Humberto Quintero hit a two-run single and Nathan Adcock took the loss after serving up the deciding home run in the 15th.
"Who wins those (games) is usually someone who makes an error or someone who hits one out," said Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur. "You can't say enough about the job that (Nate) Adcock did to give us those innings, quick ground ball outs and everything. We couldn't muster up anything either."
Royals starter Felipe Paulino tossed seven scoreless frames, scattering five hits and fanning nine in the no-decision. Kansas City will also host Arizona for three games on this homestand, but is a major-league worst 4-14 at home.
The Royals need another strong start from Luke Hochevar when he takes the rubber this afternoon against Baltimore. Hochevar shut the White Sox down in a 5-0 victory on Saturday with seven scoreless innings and five strikeouts. He issued only one walk and allowed just three hits, evening his 2012 record to 3-3 in seven starts. His earned run average of 7.20, however, needs lowering.
Hochevar ended a personal two-game slide in Chicago and is aiming for back-to- back wins for the first time this season. The right-handed Hochevar, who is 0-2 in three home starts, is not any better against the Orioles as evidenced by his 1-4 record and 6.63 ERA in six career meetings with them.
The Orioles won five of nine matchups against Kansas City in 2011, but went 2-4 at Kauffman Stadium.