Jason Hammel has had a nightmarish two months after a fast start for the Baltimore Orioles.
Hammel weaved his way into and out of trouble in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night to the Kansas City Royals that snapped the Orioles’ season-best, five-game winning streak.
Hammel (7-7) took the loss, giving up 10 hits in six innings for the second straight start. After starting the season 7-2, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA in eight starts since his last victory on May 27 at Washington.
”I wouldn’t call it a battle. I’d call it a war,” Hammel said. ”I wanted to get some quick outs and get the guys back into the dugout but it just didn’t happen. I threw a lot of pitches and they beat a lot of balls into the turf. I gave up a lot of runners and (Bruce) Chen threw a good game.”
Hammel said he was relieved he allowed only one run in each of the first three innings when the Royals stranded five runners in scoring position.
”It could have gotten out of hand fast and early,” Hammel said.
The Royals went 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position, stranding 12 runners, including nine at second and third base.
”I’d like it to be easier than that,” Hammel said. ”I had a good curve and a good slider when I needed it. I had a good fastball but I kept getting behind in the count. I did some good things tonight.
”I’m not going to be hanging my head. It’s not going to be pretty sometimes. Tonight was one of those nights, but I gave our team a chance to win. It just didn’t happen.”
The Royals loaded the bases with none out in the first, but scored only one run when Billy Butler grounded into a double play.
In the second, Chris Getz’s one-out single scored David Lough.
Mike Moutakas’ double into the right-field corner in the third scored Lorenzo Cain, who singled to lead off the inning. The Royals had runners at second and third with none out, but failed to pad their lead against Hammel.
”He ain’t giving in,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”He just kept battling. He knows what he needs to do to help this club. We were fortunate. They hit some balls hard at people and we made some plays. Jason kept battling. It was a professional outing. We’ll take the finished product.
”I’m proud of the effort. He kept grinding. He’s a guy who works really hard on the off days and once he gets a couple of good outings under his belt, I think we’ll see some good things. A lot of pitchers in the majors would have taken that outing.”
Chen tossed six strong innings, while Greg Holland pitched out of a ninth-inning jam as the Royals held on.
Holland, who logged his 25th save in 27 chances, gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Nick Markakis and a run-producing triple to Adam Jones with none out.
Holland preserved the victory by striking out Chris Davis, and retiring J.J. Hardy and Henry Urrutia on grounders.
Chen (4-0), who was making just his second start after replacing Luis Mendoza in the rotation, limited the Orioles to three hits and one run, retiring the final 10 batters he faced. The Orioles had bashed 45 hits in their previous three games before Chen and three Kansas City relievers shut them down.
Chen, the Royals’ 2012 opening day starter, was relegated to the bullpen to start the season after Mendoza earned the final rotation spot in spring training. In two starts, Chen has yielded one run and four hits in 12 innings.
”When you have command of a lot of different pitches from different angles, you can have success,” Showalter said. ”He frustrates a lot of people. He’s been doing that a long time. He gives you a lot of different looks from his arm angle and speeds.”
Manny Machado homered with two outs in the third for the only run Chen permitted.
Notes: The Orioles obtained RHP Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee for minor league INF Nick Delmonico. Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 10 saves with the Brewers and has 304 career saves. . Royals manager Ned Yost said RHP Wade Davis would remain in the rotation, but ”he needs to get going and be productive.” Davis has one win in his past 11 starts and is 0-4 with a 10.91 ERA in his past four starts. . Orioles OF Nolan Reimold underwent season-ending spinal surgery in Clearwater, Fla. Reimold also had back surgery in June 2012. . Getz started after missing the previous two games with a mild left knee sprain.