KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tack the Kansas City Royals onto the list of teams that are sick of seeing Adam Jones.
The Orioles’ slugger followed up his eventual winning homer in the 15th inning the previous night with a two-run shot on Thursday, helping Baltimore climb back from a three-run deficit to beat the Royals 5-3 and win their seventh straight road game.
The Orioles also improved to 12-1 when Jones goes deep, something he’s done each of the last three games. He has 13 homers on the year, a mark he didn’t reach until June 25 last season.
“He’s hot right now. He’s really hot,” said J.J. Hardy, whose two-run single in the seventh inning provided the go-ahead runs. “He’s been swinging the bat impressively.”
Jones preferred to deflect the attention from his hot start to his teammates, even though he’s heading to a three-game set against Washington with a nine-game hitting streak.
“We’re just chipping away,” Jones said. “You’re down 3-0, it’s easy to give away at-bats. We’re not giving anything away right now.”
Brian Matusz (3-4) won for the third time in four starts after enduring a career-worst 12-decision losing streak. He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings.
Relievers Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop made it through two innings unscathed, and Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 14th save. He’s converted 22 straight since Aug. 14, 2011.
“We got deep in the game with our starter, which we needed after last night,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s a very aggressive team and if you make a mistake, they’re going to make you pay for it. But we were also able to use that to our advantage.”
Luke Hochevar (3-4) pitched well for six innings. His only real miscue was the two-run homer by Jones in the fourth. But the right-hander ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing back-to-back singles by Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis, the start of a three-run inning for the Orioles.
Hochevar was pulled after Davis’ base hit, which center fielder Jarrod Dyson grossly misplayed. The ball bounced in front of him and went to the wall, allowing Betemit to score.
Reliever Aaron Crow came into the game and got two quick outs, but then walked No. 9 hitter Luis Exposito and leadoff hitter Xavier Avery to load the bases. Hardy followed with a two-run single, helping extend the Orioles’ longest road winning streak since 1999.
“I just didn’t get the job done,” Crow said. “I need to go out and attack those guys, and if they beat you, so be it. I just can’t give guys free bases and it ended up hurting me today.”
Kansas City had ample opportunities to pick up a couple wins against Baltimore, but instead wound up with a pair of frustrating losses in the two-game, midweek series.
Jonathan Broxton blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the opener Wednesday night, and the Royals eventually lost their third straight extra-inning game. They jumped out to a three-run lead after three innings Thursday before the Orioles mounted their comeback.
Humberto Quintero’s two-run double and Johnny Giavotella’s RBI single to right brought in the runs for Kansas City, but that’s all that Matusz allowed in an otherwise strong outing.
“With the lineup we have, it doesn’t matter what the score is. We’re in the ballgame,” Matusz said. “It’s just a matter of staying tough, staying mentally tough.”
Hochevar was just as good most of the afternoon.
After watching his ERA balloon to a run per inning, the former No. 1 overall draft pick put together seven innings of three-hit ball in his last start against the White Sox. Hochevar ran his scoreless innings streak to 10 before making a mistake on a 3-2 pitch to Jones.
“My focus has not changed from the beginning of the year to now,” he said. “Still going out with the mindset of executing quality pitches and fight like crazy to get this team a win.”
NOTES: There was a three-man umpire crew after Ed Rapuano left prior to the game for family reasons. The fire department was called to Kauffman Stadium when smoke was seen atop the scoreboard, where fireworks are shot off. Firefighters climbed up and extinguished the residue causing the smoke. Royals RHP Luis
Mendoza will start Friday night’s opener against Arizona. Orioles RHP Jake Arrieta will take the mound Friday night against the Nationals.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)