BALTIMORE (AP) — Jason Hammel pitched six shutout innings, Chris Davis homered and drove in three runs, and the Baltimore Orioles cruised past the Kansas City Royals 8-2 on Friday night.
Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy had two RBIs apiece for the Orioles, now 28-1 when hitting a home run. Davis hit Baltimore’s league-leading 70th homer of the season in the seventh inning with a man on to make it 8-0.
The crowd of 28,954 included nearly 11,000 walk-up fans, a Camden Yards record. The attendance was a testament to the excitement the first-place Orioles have generated after a run of 14 straight losing seasons.
Part of the buzz centered around Jones, who appears to be closing in on a multi-year contract extension. Jones hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning and stretched his career-high hitting streak to 16 games with an RBI single in a five-run fifth.
Hammel (6-1) gave up five hits, walked one and struck out seven. Obtained in an offseason trade with Colorado, Hammel is one big reason why Baltimore (29-17) owns the best record in the AL.
Kansas City’s Jeff Francoeur had three hits, including an eighth-inning homer off Stu Pomeranz. The Royals’ inability to complete a relay from first base to second following a pickoff throw contributed to their third straight defeat.
The Orioles benefited from that shortcoming during the game-turning fifth inning. Xavier Avery led off with a walk and broke for second as starter Bruce Chen threw to first. Avery reached second before the throw from first baseman Eric Hosmer. Robert Andino followed with a perfectly placed bunt to put runners on the corners. This time it was Andino who broke for second as Chen threw to first. Andino avoided the tag, and Hardy hit a two-run double.
Nick Markakis doubled in a run before Jones chased Chen with an RBI single. With two outs, Jones stole second and scored on a single by Davis for a 6-0 lead.
Chen (3-5) gave up six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. The left-hander had won each of his previous three starts.
Baltimore loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning but got only one run, on a sacrifice fly by Jones.
The Royals missed a chance to draw even in the second. With one out and Francoeur on third, the Orioles moved the infield in and got the desired result — a grounder to second baseman Andino, who threw out Francoeur at the plate.
In the fourth, a double by Francoeur put runners at second and third with one out. Hammel then struck out Alex Gordon and Brayan Pena.
One inning later, the Royals again had runners at second and third with one out. Hammel struck out Hosmer before Brett Butler hit a rising liner to shortstop that Hardy leaped to grab.
NOTES: Francoeur is 11 for 21 in his last five games. The Orioles designated OF Bill Hall for assignment, recalled Pomeranz and C Ronny Paulino from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned C Luis Exposito to the same minor league club. KC RHP Blake Wood underwent successful elbow ligament replacement surgery Thursday. LHP Danny Duffy is due to have Tommy John surgery next Thursday, manager Ned Yost said. Orioles 3B Mark Reynolds and LF Endy Chavez, who are both sidelined with left oblique injuries, are slated to begin their minor league rehabilitation assignments with Double-A Bowie on Saturday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)