- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

BALTIMORE — Two teams going in different directions took the field last night at Camden Yards, and both seemed to put themselves back on their rightful paths.The Kansas City Royals had been the talk of baseball with a club-record 17 wins in April, sitting on top of the American League Central with a squad of young, talented players. But they came into Camden Yards with a four-game losing streak and questions about whether they were about to become the hapless Royals of old.The Baltimore Orioles came back home after a six-game road trip with a four-game winning streak and a record of 15-12, prompting questions whether the embattled franchise was turning the corner.The questions were answered last night. The Royals ended their losing streak with a 5-2 victory, powered by a two-run homer from Mike Sweeney and a big solo blast by Ken Harvey before 26,737 at Camden Yards.Both Orioles starter Rick Helling (1-3) and Royals starter Miguel Asencio (2-0) struggled in the second inning, although only one paid for it. With two out, Harvey and Brent Mayne singled for the Royals before Dee Brown grounded into a forceout at third.Baltimore scored one off Asencio in the bottom half and might have had more except for a baserunning mistake by Tony Batista. Jeff Conine led off with a flyball to right that got past the diving Brown and went all the way to the wall for a triple. He scored on Jay Gibbons’ fly to right.Batista walked before rookie Larry Bigbie drove a ball into the left-center field gap for a double. As Batista headed for third, coach Tom Trebelhorn gave him the go sign. But as Ibanez fielded the ball and Batista reached third, Trebelhorn changed it and held up both arms to try to signal Batista to stop. But he ran through the sign and was thrown out at the plate for the second out. Brook Fordyce then struck out.Fordyce made amends in the fifth inning. The veteran catcher, whose hitting of late has gotten him the nod over Geronimo Gil as the regular, sent a 1-1 pitch by Asencio into the left-field seats for a 2-0 Baltimore lead.But in the Royals’ sixth, a walk by Helling proved costly. With Beltran on first to start the inning, Sweeney, with a 2-0 count, drilled a line shot into the left-field seats for his seventh homer to tie it 2-2.”You don’t expect guys to hit balls knee high on the black outside of the ballpark,” Helling said. “But that’s why he’s an All-Star.” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said Helling was done in by one small stretch when he lost his control.”He was hitting his spots and had good stuff, and then all of a sudden he wasn’t hitting his spots,” Hargrove said. “When you make mistakes to good hitters, you pay for it.”After Ibanez struck out, Harvey slammed a 1-1 pitch deep into the center field seats — 403 feet — to give Kansas City a 3-2 lead. Notes — Orioles right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who strained a muscle in his lower back in the second inning of Thursday’s Game 1 against Detroit, will go on the disabled list today, according to Hargrove. That mean’s last year’s ace, who has been struggling this season with an 0-3 record and a 7.36 ERA, will likely miss his next three starts.On the plus side, Hargrove said he expects oft-injured David Segui to be activated today. Segui already has been on the DL twice this season, the last time for a strained right hamstring April 23, retroactive to April 18. He has missed 18 games this year, and since signing a four-year, $28 million contract in 2001, has missed 234 games due to injuries. …Right-hander Jason Johnson, who was scheduled to start tomorrow’s series finale against Kansas City, had his start pushed back to Monday against Detroit to give more time for a blister on his pitching hand to heal. Tomorrow’s starter is Eric DuBose, who was called up from Class AAA Ottawa, Hargrove said.

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