By Jeffrey Flanagan and Robert Falkoff
KANSAS CITY -- Brandon Moss belted the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning, his second in two games, as the Royals held off the Orioles for a 4-3 win on Saturday night behind a record start from right-hander Nathan Karns.
Karns set a career high in strikeouts with 12, and he also became the first Royal in club history to strike out that many in just five innings. He gave up five hits and two runs. After back-to-back one-run wins, the Royals will go for a sweep of the three-game set on Mother's Day.
Moss said he's trying to make adjustments at the plate.
"Right now, honestly, I'm just trying to find my bat path," Moss said. "I keep swinging up at everything and it's just not a good path ... . I'm just constantly trying to work on being able to cover the entire plate."
"Frankie has that type of pop," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
O's starter Chris Tillman was in trouble from the beginning. He threw 105 pitches over 4 1/3 innings and gave up eight hits, two walks and three runs in his second start since coming off the disabled list because of shoulder bursitis.
"It was a struggle for him," Showalter said. "They made him work."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Welcome back, Seth: Royals reliever Seth Maness, who had Primary Repair surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow instead of Tommy John surgery, made his first appearance in the Majors since August with St. Louis. Maness' first batter was Chris Davis in the sixth inning with the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. Davis skied a home run to left field that just cleared the fence, his fifth of the season. Maness got through the inning without any further damage.
"I had a lot more emotion than I've had in a long time playing this game tonight," Maness said. "It was good to get that one under the belt, and hopefully it'll be a little easier getting back out there. … Emotions, the butterflies I've had, I haven't had those in a long time. It was super exciting. I was maybe a little too jacked up, but it was good and I'm happy the team came out with a win."
Finishing strong: Shortly after Pena's second homer of the game gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fifth, Karns faced the ever-dangerous Manny Machado in a two-on, two-out situation. Karns finished his stint on a strong note as he got Machado for his 12th strikeout. The Royals immediately rallied for two runs.
"I will always give their pitchers credit," Showalter said. "We didn't string many at-bats together."
"Crazy as it sounds, the catalyst [to winning five of last six] is putting [Alcides Escobar] at the top. His at-bats are better. [Eric Hosmer's] at-bats are better. Moss' at-bats are better. ... Guys are putting together good at-bats." -- Royals manager Ned Yost, on #EskyMagic
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-3, 6.63 ERA) will oppose the Royals at 2:15 p.m. ET on Sunday in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium. Gausman hopes to hit his spots better in an attempt to lower opponents' .299 average against him.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young (0-0, 5.93) will take the mound in the series finale on Mother's Day at 1:15 p.m. CT. Young, starting in place of the injured Ian Kennedy, gave up four runs in three innings on Tuesday in a start against Tampa Bay.