By Jeffrey Flanagan and Brittany Ghiroli
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Kris Medlen, making his first regular-season start since Sept. 27, 2013, threw six strong innings and the Royals' offense rose up to score seven runs in the sixth inning -- all with two out -- en route to an 8-3 win over the slumping Orioles on Monday night.
The Royals, whose lead in the American League Central is now 13 games, won for the third straight time while the Orioles lost their fifth in a row, matching a season high. The Royals' magic number dropped to 26.
Medlen gave up five hits and three runs, walking none and striking out six. Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer for the Royals to spark the pivotal sixth frame.
"I tried not to make it about myself, about anything like that," Medlen said. "I've said from the get-go, I didn't want this to be a pity party, not a 'Yeah, you did it' kind of thing. I expected to come and work and produce.
"I've said it every interview I've done, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this team. Right now, it's a different role than it was early on, but I'm going to keep working and improving."
Adam Jones crushed a two-run homer off Medlen in the first inning, a shot that landed over the fountains in left-center. O's starter Ubaldo Jimenez gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings, including six two-out runs in the sixth.
"You're a pitch away from getting out of there and he had been making it most of the night," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought he was carrying a good, crisp fastball the whole game, but we had five hits. You always tip your hat to the opposition, but you get a little tired of doing that. It was a nice moment for Medlen. It's been a long fight back for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Moose rolling: Aside from having another brilliant defensive game in which he robbed Henry Urrutia and Jones with terrific plays, Moustakas cranked up the offense again with his 14th homer, a two-run blast in the sixth that tied the score at 3. Moustakas had three hits on Sunday, including a homer and two doubles, one of which put the Royals up for good at 8-6 against the Red Sox.
"Just looking to get a fastball out over the plate, and he threw one," Moustakas said. "He went [first-pitch] fastball over the plate and I took it. I was kind of looking for the exact same pitch and he threw it again. Just put a good swing on it and ended up getting out of the yard."
Ubaldo's two-out trouble: The O's 3-1 lead vanished in an ugly seven-run sixth inning, all of which came with two outs, as Jimenez's night took a quick turn for the worse. After Moustakas' game-tying homer, Jimenez surrendered a single to Salvador Perez and Alex Rios doubled. But he couldn't work his way free of the jam, as Omar Infante tripled both in and scored on Jonathan Schoop's errant throw. Jimenez, who was charged six runs in the inning, exited after that. The inning represented the largest by an Oriole opponent this season. More >
"I probably started leaving the ball a little bit up in the zone and they started putting a good swing on it," Jimenez said. "I don't think the pitch to Moustakas was a bad pitch. That's what I wanted to throw, the pitch up and in. The big mistake I made was the 0-2 pitch to Infante. Supposed to be up and in, I left it right down the middle."
Get off their backs: Since manager Ned Yost suggested that Rios and Infante might lose playing time if they didn't pick up their production, they have combined to go nine for 18 with two doubles, three triples, three runs scored and three RBIs. On Monday, Rios had two hits, including a double, and a run scored. Infante had two triples, two RBIs and a run scored.
"I'm pleased," Yost said. "When you get that kind of offense going at the bottom of the order -- we know what type of offense we have at the top of the order. It just balances it out the lineup and makes it productive all the way from one through nine, and put runs on the ball.
Baltimore's frozen bats: The Orioles didn't record a hit after Steve Clevenger's fourth-inning double as the offense went 0-for-16 down the stretch.
"They pitched well and we didn't swing the bats well," Showalter said. "Our guys are pushing and they know we've got to get it going. It's not usually a good recipe against good pitchers."
The Orioles challenged and replay overturned Manny Machado's game-opening at-bat. Machado hit a ball to deep center field that Lorenzo Cain corralled off the wall before falling down. The play, initially ruled an out, was changed to a double and Machado scored on Jones' one-out homer.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Orioles dropped to 25-37 on the road and fell back to .500 for the first time since July 27.
"We're grown men, not kids. We can't go around here and yell and scream at somebody like you do kids. Hey, we're grown men. We know what we need to do. We know the objective. We know how to do it. We're Major League players. We're the cream of the crop. So we just really just have to jell and get it done. There ain't no other way." -- Jones, on the Orioles finding a way to stop their losing streak
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (9-9, 4.73 ERA) will start the second of this four-game road series on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Gonzalez allowed seven runs in five innings in his last start, a loss to the Twins on Thursday.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.18 ERA) will get the ball on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT for the rematch in this four-game set at Kauffman Stadium. Duffy lasted just five innings in his last start against the Red Sox on Thursday, giving up seven hits and four runs.