Greinke cruises to 7th win as Royals end skid at 6
Zack Greinke felt the pressure of ending his team's season-worst losing streak. He was eager to bounce back from his first loss of the year. And he even had two extra hours to think about it.
Amped a little too much, even for him, Greinke came out firing, trying to overpower every hitter. Once he realized it wasn't working, Greinke settled back into his normal routine and went back to shutting down hitters.
Greinke overcame his overzealous start to earn his seventh win, Miguel Olivo hit a three-run homer and the Kansas City Royals ended a six-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over the Orioles on Friday night.
"I was trying too hard. I came out trying to blow everyone away and you can't really do that against big league hitters," Greinke said after his first career win against the Orioles. "I started pitching after that and it went a lot smoother."
The return of Zack-mania to Kauffman Stadium - well, that and the $1 hot dogs and peanuts on Buck Night - had the Royals expecting a sellout. Thunderstorms moved into the area late in the afternoon, delaying the start by 2 hours, 30 minutes, and keeping several thousand fans away.
Those who showed up - about 25,000 - waited out the storms by milling around the concourses and filling the new sports bar, creating a frat-party atmosphere before the first pitch.
The Royals sputtering offense got off to a good start, battering Adam Eaton (2-4) to stake Greinke to a 6-1 lead by the fourth inning and kept hitting. Mike Jacobs hit his eighth homer, Jose Guillen and Alberto Callaspo drove in two runs each and Mark Teahen had three of Kansas City's 13 hits.
"It was good to see us put up hits and put up runs with it," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
All the waiting didn't seem to do any good for Greinke (7-1), who matched Toronto's Roy Halladay for the AL wins lead.
He had his nine-game winning streak snapped against the Angels on Saturday, yet was still sharp, allowing one run and four hits in eight innings. Greinke didn't have the same kind of stuff early against the Orioles, walking two, including Brian Roberts to lead off the game, and allowing one more hit in the first three innings than his previous start.
But after giving up a run on Aubrey Huff's single in the third, Greinke got into a groove, retiring 11 of the next 12 batters before leaving after 106 pitches. He allowed six hits in seven innings, struck out six and saw his baseball-best ERA creep up to 0.60.
"When he puts a little too much effort in, he doesn't have quite the same command," Hillman said. "I think that's what happened the first couple (innings)."
Baltimore, still without outfielders Adam Jones (hamstring) and Luke Scott (shoulder), missed some early chances against Greinke and had two hits after the third inning to lose for just the eighth time in its past 32 games in Kansas City.
Greinke was just too good when he needed to be, getting four strikeouts with runners on base, holding the Orioles to one single after the rough start.
"He's off to something special," Eaton said. "I wish it wasn't against us tonight."
Baltimore's pitching wasn't quite as good.
The Orioles allowed at least 10 hits for the 24th time this season, including 14 of the past 20 games. The Orioles starters have just two road wins this season and the staff is among the worst in the AL with an ERA of 5.52.
It started with Eaton, who had problems after the rain delay and never fully recovered.
The right-hander labored through a 29-pitch first inning, giving up a two-run single to Guillen not long after Billy Butler's foul pop fell between third baseman Melvin Mora and catcher Gregg Zaun.
"You've got to locate better to finish hitters off," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Greinke located better. That's the difference in the game."
Baltimore leads the AL with 56 homers allowed. ... Orioles SS Cesar Izturis, the AL's toughest hitter to strike out, fanned three times. ... Royals Hall of Fame 3B George Brett, who now works in the front office, turned 56 on Friday.