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Rays fail to solve Meche in 4-2 loss to Royals



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gil Meche pitched seven scoreless innings after a shaky start and John Buck drove in two runs, helping the Kansas City Royals hold off Tampa Bay 4-2 Thursday night to extend the AL East-leading Rays' road losing streak to seven games.
Kansas City appeared well on its way to ending a four-game home losing streak after taking a 4-0 lead into the eighth inning. Then it started raining and things got interesting.
Tampa Bay cut the lead to 4-1 on B.J. Upton's RBI groundout off Ron Mahay, then Evan Longoria led off the ninth by hitting Joakim Soria's first pitch down the line in left for a double. Carlos Pena followed with a single and Cliff Floyd made it 4-2 with a sacrifice fly.
That was it for the Rays, though. Soria got Dioner Navarro to ground into fielder's choice, then ended the game by striking out Eric Hinske for his 27th save in 29 chances.
Meche (8-9) had a miserable first inning, needing 26 minutes and 31 pitches to get out of it. But he did it without giving up a run, getting Carlos Pena to fly out with runners on first and third.
After working through a few more problems in the second inning, when he again gave up two singles, Meche settled into a rhythm and didn't allow a runner past first base the rest of the way.
The right-hander gave up five hits and walked one, beating an AL East team for the first time in seven starts this season (1-5).
He had some help, too.
Royals shortstop Mike Aviles ranged far to rob Floyd of a single, then left fielder David DeJesus took extra bases away from Navarro with a sprawling catch down the line four pitches later.
Rays starter Matt Garza (8-6) was coming off a solid outing, allowing two hits in 7 2-3 scoreless innings against Toronto.
But he had to follow it with a game against Kansas City, a team he can't seem to beat no matter what he does.
The right-hander entered with a respectable 3.42 ERA in four career starts against the Royals, but was 0-3. Garza's tough luck against the Royals continued on a steamy night at Kaufman Stadium, where he allowed four runs on eight hits and walked four in five innings.
Kansas City got one run off Garza in the first inning on Mark Grudzielanek's sacrifice fly, then three more in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Ross Gload and Buck's two-run single.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:37am]


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