Royals 9, Orioles 4

The Alex Gordon who the Kansas City Royals drafted second

overall in 2005 is finally reaching expectations six years

later.

Gordon matched his career-high with four hits and Yamaico

Navarro drove in three runs to the lead the Royals over the

Baltimore Orioles 9-4 on Thursday night.

Gordon hit .215 in 74 games last year and entered 2011 with a

.244 average. With the four hits, Gordon hiked his average to .311.

After he grounded out in his final at-bat, Billy Butler approached

him in the dugout.

”I went down there and told him, ‘You couldn’t get five?”’

Butler said laughing. ”He’s doing great. I’m happy for him. He’s

swinging the bat better than I’ve ever seen him. I hope he can ride

it and keep staying consistent like he is. He’s really turned the

corner. He’s made a lot of adjustments and really come into his

own.”

Gordon leads the Royals with 34 doubles and is tied for the team

lead with 14 home runs.

”He’s as close as you can get to dominating right now,” Royals

manager Ned Yost said. ”He’s putting great at-bats together. He’s

hitting the ball hard. He’s hitting doubles, home runs. He’s

driving in runs. He’s doing everything. He had four great swings

tonight and smoked the ball four times.”

The Royals sent 11 men to the plate in a six-run sixth inning to

break open the game. The inning included eight hits with Navarro

doubling home two runs and Chris Getz stroking a two-run single.

Melky Cabrera and Butler added run-producing singles in the

inning.

”We started that inning down a run,” Butler said. ”Then we

just broke out and put the game away. We took the momentum. We got

some big hits here and big hits there. We put up nine runs and we

cruised to an easy victory, which is always fun.”

The Royals had 17 hits with every starter having at least one.

Gordon, Cabrera and Butler, the first three Kansas City hitters,

combined to go 8 for 14 with six runs, two doubles and three

RBIs.

Reliever Blake Wood (5-0) worked two hitless innings, walking

two and striking out two, to pick up the victory. He pitched out of

a bases loaded jam in the sixth.

”Woody holding the fort was big for us,” Yost said.

Royals starter Jeff Francis, who pitched eight scoreless innings

to beat Cleveland in his previous start, gave up four runs and 10

hits in five-plus innings before Wood replaced him.

Orioles rookie left-hander Zach Britton (6-9) again ran into

difficulties in the first inning. Britton, who had allowed 13 runs

in a combined one inning in his previous two starts, allowed three

runs and three hits in the first. Two of the runs were unearned

after his throwing error. Britton, who allowed six runs and 12 hits

in 5 1-3 innings, is 1-8 in his past 14 starts after starting the

season 5-1.

”I told myself ‘It’s not going to happen,”’ Britton said of

the first inning. ”Especially after that error I knew I have to

make some pitches. It was nice to get out of it after that and then

to throw some fairly good innings was nice, too.”

Navarro, Butler and Jeff Francoeur, who had three hits, each

drove in a run in the first.

J.J. Hardy homered for the Orioles in the fifth inning, his 19th

this season and the 100th of his career. Hardy, however, left after

six innings with a sore left ankle. He is listed as day-to-day.

Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis drove in the other

Baltimore runs. Markakis and Wieters both had two hits and an RBI.

Adam Jones doubled and singled for his seventh multi-hit game in

his past 12.

Notes: IF Cesar Izturis, who went 3 for 10 with three RBIs, two

runs and two walks in three games on a minor league rehab

assignment with Double-A Bowie, will join the Orioles on Friday. He

is on the 60-day DL after having right elbow surgery. ”I’m

excited,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”We haven’t had

him here in a while. He can do a lot things for us. We’ll be able

to use him in a lot of ways. We’ll probably see a couple of new

faces here the next few days.” … Showalter said RHP Jake

Arrieta, who is out with an elbow injury, is ”likely going” on

the DL. He is scheduled to be examined Wednesday in Los Angeles by

Dr. Lewis Yocum. … Baltimore dropped to 0-8-2 in its 10 series.

… In four starts since the All-Star break, Royals RHP Luke

Hochevar is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA and holding opponents to a .198

batting average. He was 5-8 with a 5.46 ERA and opponents hitting

.271 off him in his first 19 starts. … RHP Tommy Hunter will make

his first Baltimore start Friday against Toronto. He was acquired

in a July 30 trade with Texas. … RHP Felipe Paulino, who starts

Friday for the Royals against Detroit, has struck out 42 and walked

nine, two intentionally, in his past six starts.