Orioles use 4-run 5th to earn sweep of Royals

Orioles use 4-run 5th to earn sweep of Royals

BALTIMORE -- Ryan Flaherty's two-run double keyed a four-run fifth inning and Chris Tillman fired 7 1/3 scoreless innings as the Orioles rolled to a 4-0 win over the Royals on Wednesday night to complete a three-game series sweep.

A night removed from a benches-clearing brawl that saw both O's infielder Manny Machado and Royals starter Yordano Ventura ejected, the two dugouts looked as if they had put Tuesday's scuffle behind them as there were no heated incidents in the series finale.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

"I mean, we wanted to come out today and win a series. And I think we did a good job of getting back to what we do," Tillman said. "And we played a pretty solid game throughout."

Instead, it was business as usual for a cruising Orioles lineup -- led by Flaherty's two RBIs -- as the American League East leaders won for the seventh time in eight games. The Royals, last year's World Series champions, continued their slide as their season-high losing streak reached seven games. It is the first time the Royals have lost seven straight since August 2013.

Tillman's scoreless start

"Again, you guys want to talk about frustration," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I try not to get frustrated. I know these guys are trying. We're just not being very productive right now.

"You just got to keep working. Frustrating doesn't do you any good."

Royals starter Edinson Volquez was roughed up for four runs over 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and a pair of walks. Tillman struck out nine in picking up his eighth victory.

"I think I tried to make every pitch too good tonight," Volquez said. "We haven't been [scoring] too much lately."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A threat fizzles: The Royals did have a major threat in the eighth when two singles and a walk to Eric Hosmer loaded the bases with two out and put the potential tying run at the plate in the form of Salvador Perez. But Perez swung through the first two pitches from reliever Brad Brach. Then, Perez hit a hard liner to the warning track in left to end the threat.

Brach escapes the bases loaded

"I can't speak for anybody else, but I had trouble seeing him tonight," Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said of Tillman. "He kept the ball up in the zone on me. I just kept swinging through it. I didn't have the best at-bats tonight."

One positive on Wednesday was rookie Whit Merrifield setting a Royals record by reaching safely in his first 17 games with a single to left field in the eighth inning.

In a Flash: Orioles utility player Flaherty made a fantastic double play at third base to help Tillman's cause in the third inning and doubled in a pair of runs off Volquez. Flaherty is expected to see some more playing time with the pending suspension of Machado.

Flaherty turns two

"It's nice to contribute," Flaherty said. "I think the lineup, it seems like it's the same guys every night, [Mark] Trumbo, [Matt] Wieters, [Chris] Davis, [Manny] Machado, [Adam] Jones. It's nice to change it up and have some other guys pitch in."

When it's going bad: When teams are mired in horrific offensive slumps, not even the simplest of plays is performed, like the bunt. The Royals had a promising start in the third inning when Cheslor Cuthbert led off with a double into the left-field corner. But No. 9 hitter Jarrod Dyson popped a bunt right to Flaherty, who then flipped to second to get Cuthbert for a double play. Then, Alcides Escobar followed with a perfect bunt for a hit. But Whit Merrifield grounded out. More >

QUOTABLE
"Ryan knows how much we value what he brings as far as the club needs. With J.J. [Hardy] out and some other things headed our way [with Machado]. I think Ryan revels in that opportunity to contribute. A lot of people forget this guy played third base in the playoffs and did a real good job. He's easy to pull for." -- Showalter, on Flaherty

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brach earned his second save of the season and extended his scoreless streak to 10 games with 15 strikeouts since May 18.

Brach closes out the 9th

DAVIS GETS A BREAK
Orioles first baseman Davis did not play on Wednesday, out of the starting lineup for the first time this season while dealing with a few nagging injuries. Showalter said he didn't know if Davis would play on Thursday.

"If he feels exactly like he did today I probably wouldn't," Showalter said. "I'm expecting him to be ready to go tomorrow if he shows the improvement he's capable of. I hadn't really given it a lot of thought. I'd like to give a lot of guys a day here and there. That was more it than the other. At this point, I haven't got any reason to think he shouldn't be close to available to us tomorrow or the next day."

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: After an off-day on Thursday, right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-4, 3.44 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game road set against the White Sox on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. The Royals have won five of six meetings vs. American League Central rivals this season.

Orioles: Right-hander Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39) will get the ball on Thursday at 7:07 p.m. ET as Baltimore travels to Toronto for the first time this season for a four-game road series. Wilson took a loss in his last start after giving up five runs on seven hits in four innings last Saturday against the Yankees.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.