Butler went 5-for-5, drove in three runs and scored two to lead the Royals over the Orioles, 5-3, on a sultry 87-degree Monday night as 15,169 fans melted at Camden Yards.
"I got the pitch I wanted to hit every time tonight," Butler said. "That may not be the case tomorrow. That rarely is the case."
Butler's fourth hit, a double to right-center, opened the seventh inning and led to a 4-3 Royals lead against Orioles reliever Matt Albers. With two outs and Butler at third, Brayan Pena got an infield single to score the tie-breaker.
All 247 pounds of Pena fled to first base with surprising speed after his hopper to third baseman Melvin Mora, and he beat the throw.
"I always try to run hard every time. So when it passed the pitcher and I heard [first-base coach] Rusty [Kuntz] yelling, 'C'mon B! C'mon B!'" Pena said, "I always do what I can to help my team win."
And Butler's fifth hit, a lined single to right field off reliever Danys Baez, drove in Willie Bloomquist with the fifth run in the eighth inning. Bloomquist got an infield single and moved up on an error and a groundout.
This was the first five-hit game of Butler's career, and he boosted his average to .295. He also had a run-scoring single in the first inning, a RBI double in the third and an infield single in the fifth. The Royals' last previous five-hit game was by Mark Teahen on April 17 in a 12-3 win at Texas. In franchise history, the Royals have had 38 games in which a player had five or more hits.
On Monday, Kansas City gathered 14 hits, including two each by Bloomquist, Teahen and Alex Gordon.
"We swung the bats good," Butler said. "I'd say this second half we've swing the bats pretty well. We've had some good at-bats. It may not translate into runs every night, but we've battled."
Royals starter Bruce Chen labored through five innings that were fraught with big jams, but when he left, the score was a 3-3 tie.
"He was hanging by a thread," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Adam Jones cracked an 0-2 pitch to center field for a home run in the first inning. In the second and the fifth innings, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs and came out with one run each time. In the second, Chen plunked Jones with his first pitch to force in a run and then struck out Aubrey Huff. In the fifth, Matt Wieters lined a single for one run, but left fielder Ryan Freel threw out Nolan Reimold at the plate to end the inning.
"I made good pitches at the right time," Chen said. "I was trying to win and keep this team in the ballgame, so I'm very happy with the results."
Meanwhile, Robinson Tejeda was up and down in the Royals' bullpen. He finally took over for Chen to start the sixth and promptly gave up a single to Cesar Izturis. But Izturis was just as promptly thrown out on a laser throw from catcher Pena. And that was the last baserunner the Orioles would have.
Tejeda mowed down eight straight batters to record his first victory of the season. Often all over the place, on Monday, Tejeda threw 25 pitches -- 20 were strikes.
"That's the most strikes I've ever seen him throw," marveled Hillman.
Tejeda credited bullpen sessions with pitching coach Bob McClure with getting him on target.
"I didn't want a strikeout, I just wanted the hitter to hit the ball. I think that was the key, kind of like pitching to contact," Tejeda said.
Tejeda settled for one strikeout and set the stage for closer Joakim Soria. Back after his two-inning success on Saturday night, Soria notched three quick outs for his 16th save. Seems like old times.
"Big for our bullpen, that's got to be a big confidence boost," Butler said. "We know when we've got the lead and we're in the bullpen, we've got to get the ball to Soria. That's what we did tonight."
So now the Royals have won two of three games, if you see your glass as half full, or two of 13 games, if you see your glass as half empty.
They've started their eight-game trip with a victory on a muggy night at Baltimore.
"It was very humid," Butler said. "I was feeling the effects later in the game."
Like the Orioles were feeling the effects of a hot Butler.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less