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Bannister, Nomo peaking at right time

Bannister, Nomo peaking at right time

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brian Bannister finally got that solid pitching performance he was seeking and Hideo Nomo made another strong bid for a bullpen job.

Those were the centerpieces of the Royals' mound outings Saturday in a 10-inning, 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres.

Bannister wheeled through six innings, giving up just two runs on Tadahito Iguchi's home run.

"The goal was to have the best outing toward the end of Spring Training," Bannister said. "This year, I had a different approach of peaking right as the season began so I'd have more stamina for the year and be healthier. I think it's going well. My velocity was better today, my pitches had more life and I think all four pitches were sharper today so that was exciting."

He gave up eight hits, but walked no one and struck out six.

"I'm going to give up hits because I throw strikes and I don't walk people and that's going to lead to hits," he said. "At least by making them put the ball in play, I have a chance of getting an out. A walk is always a guarantee of taking first. That's going to be my goal all year long, to pitch ahead and pitch to contact and, hopefully, pitch a quick game as well."

In his three previous games, Bannister wasn't nearly as sharp and had an 8.49 ERA.

Nomo pitched a perfect ninth inning, getting one strikeout.

"He did a good job -- one hard-hit ball," manager Trey Hillman said. "He elevated a fastball on purpose when he needed to and a real good slider today. [He had] a couple of splits that tumbled and a couple that didn't."

Counting one unofficial inning that was added to a game against Milwaukee, Nomo has pitched four straight perfect innings. In his 14 official Cactus League innings, he has 15 strikeouts.

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

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