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Royals lose despite ace's efforts

Royals lose despite ace's efforts

KANSAS CITY -- Manager Buddy Bell said the Royals needed a clutch pitching performance from Gil Meche. They got it -- and still lost their seventh straight game.

What Bell and the Royals didn't get was any clutch hits and they lost, 3-0, to the Baltimore Orioles on a wet Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. This is the Royals' longest skid of the season.

Left-hander Erik Bedard shut down the Royals for eight innings on four hits. Closer Chris Ray finished up with a perfect ninth.

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"Gil was terrific," Bell said. "But, you know, it's hard to win when you don't score any runs. He was outstanding, pretty much what we needed. But we couldn't do anything with Bedard. He was outstanding as well."

After a rain delay of 1 hour 36 minutes, Meche and Bedard traded zeroes for seven innings.

Each pitcher had something to prove. Meche was coming off two poor starts and had to leave his previous game with a stiff back. Bedard had not won in seven consecutive starts.

Meche showed no signs of any holdover effect.

"After my last two starts, I could've gone out there and given up four runs and pitched better," Meche said.

"The walks kind of got me today.... In the eighth inning, fatigue set in and they got some key hits when they needed to."

Meche worked out of a two-walk jam in the sixth. But, in the eighth, he began the inning with a walk of Ramon Hernandez. Corey Patterson, bunting for a sacrifice, fled down the line so quickly that he beat third baseman Esteban German's throw.

Bell didn't get a first-hand view of that play. He was in the clubhouse after getting ejected in the eighth inning for questioning plate umpire Marty Foster's heave-ho of Emil Brown.

"I wasn't down there on the bunt play," Bell said, "but that was a key play -- not getting Patterson at first. It looked like a fairly simple bunt but I don't think we took into consideration his speed, unfortunately."

Catcher John Buck said the Royals were poised and ready.

"German was right there and he did everything he could. German fielded it Textbook 2 and threw it but that guy is so dang fast," Buck said.

Brian Roberts sacrificed and Jay Payton followed with a single past drawn-in shortstop Tony Pena Jr. Pinch-runner Freddie Bynum dashed home to break the shutout.

That ended Meche's outing.

Reliever Zack Greinke struck out Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff to close the inning. In the ninth, though, Greinke was tagged for Kevin Millar's single and Nick Markakis' two-run homer.

Bedard really had just one perilous moment.

In the third inning, Buck and Pena each singled for runners at the corners with one out. But Bedard struck out German and got David DeJesus on a soft liner.

"We're not getting the big hit," Buck said.

In the seven straight losses, the Royals have scored just 13 runs.

All evening they seemed mystified by Bedard.

"I wouldn't say he was mystifying; I'd say he's a good pitcher," said the Royals' Ryan Shealy. "He's got a good fastball and he throws that curveball for strikes most of the time."

Bedard retired the last 11 batters he faced.

Meche had a streak, too, getting 13 straight Orioles in one stretch. He gave up four hits and walked four.

He was tough, mirroring his first nine starts.

"Our starting pitching hasn't been good in the last six games and I'm glad I came through today and had a good start," Meche said.

"But coming out of a slump against Bedard isn't something that's easy to do."

For seven games now, the Royals haven't found anything that's easy to do.

Dick Kaegel is an reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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