A few minutes later, the eccentric pitcher started pouring glasses of Dom Perignon champagne he'd been hiding in the clubhouse for this very moment.
Not quite a pennant or a playoff victory, but no matter.
The Royals ended baseball's longest losing streak in 17 years Saturday night, defeating the Oakland Athletics 2-1 to snap a club-record 19-game skid.
"This win is like winning a playoff game," said Lima, whose crew only went through six of the 12 bottles of his bubbly. "We're a young team, we stuck together and took it like a man. It's tough to stay tough, but we did it."
Then he offered up $1,000 to the player who most helps the Royals win Sunday. Some of his teammates just shook their heads, so accustomed to Lima going over the top on everything.
"Save it, Lima!" one yelled, music blaring in the background.
"Is this champagne from the Dodgers?" hollered another, a reference to Lima's former team.
Emil Brown doubled in a run, Matt Stairs added an RBI groundout and Mike Wood pitched five effective innings, helping the Royals stop their slide two shy of the American League record. They also ended a 12-game road losing streak that tied the franchise single-season mark.
It didn't come without a couple bloopers that so defined the play of the lowly Royals for 23 days since their previous victory, a 6-5 win over the White Sox in 13 innings on July 27.
"This game was so crazy," manager Buddy Bell said. "It's probably one of the worst games we played in the whole streak. I told the guys after the game that they handled one of the toughest times ever in baseball. A young team faced TV and newspapers and
everywhere they read they were scrutinized. I'm proud of them. It was tough, but the guys handled themselves with class."
Kansas City (39-82), which owns the majors' worst record, beat A's ace Barry Zito and got clutch outs when Oakland had a runner on third base with fewer than two outs in the fifth and sixth.
Royals outfielder Terrence Long, who spent 2000-03 with the A's, has seen astonishing streaks from both sides. Long avoided becoming the first player since 1900 to be part of a 20-game winning streak
and a 20-game losing streak, according to Stats, Inc.
"Yeah, that's good. I don't want to go down in the history books for that," Long said. "I want to be the first guy to lose 19 and come back and win 19."
Long remembers when Oakland beat Kansas City in improbable fashion for the club's AL-record 20th straight victory in early September 2002 -- and now the Royals ended their frustration against the same club.
Wood (4-4), a former member of the A's making his third start of the year, allowed four hits, struck out four and walked two in a solid 92-pitch effort. MacDougal got four outs for his 15th straight save and 16th in 18 chances -- his first since July 24.
The right-hander blew a game against Cleveland in a non-save situation Aug. 9 when Kansas City took a five-run lead into the ninth and was on the verge of snapping a 10-game losing streak, but the Indians sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs to
rally for a 13-7 victory.
Zito (11-10) lost his second straight start and is winless in three outings since beating Minnesota on Aug. 4 for his eighth straight win. The lefty gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked three.
"They were getting the breaks we were getting in our streak," Zito said. "I figured they weren't getting breaks like that. ... When you have that kind of losing streak, you really stop caring. They were doing things today that normally major-league teams don't do, like every time I threw to first their entire dugout was yelling 'Back!' They obviously were fired up."
Kansas City hit back-to-back singles off Zito to start the fourth before Brown's RBI double tied the score at 1. Stairs made it 2-1 with an RBI groundout moments later.
But soon the mistakes came. Shortstop Angel Berroa backhanded Jay Payton's sharp grounder and then bounced his throw to second for an error. The Royals got out of it unscathed after turning a double play.
The next inning, third baseman Mark Teahen fielded Jason Kendall's grounder and made a wild throw that sailed well over first baseman Mike Sweeney's head for a two-base error. One out later, Teahen made a sprawling stop and threw out Bobby Crosby at first for the third out.
The Royals' skid was the longest since Baltimore lost an AL-record 21 in a row at the start of the 1988 season. The major-league mark since 1900 is 23 straight losses by the Phillies in 1961.
Kansas City bounced back following a 4-0 loss Friday night, when Lima lost to Rich Harden.
Crosby drove in a run for the A's in the third when he hit into a fielder's choice, but the A's were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.Game notes
Outfielder David DeJesus sat out for Kansas City after leaving in the fourth inning Friday with a sore left ribcage. ... Teahen returned to the team after missing Friday's game for the funeral of his grandfather. ... Six of the Royals' starters Saturday once played for the A's or in the Oakland farm system. ... Kansas City right-hander Scott Sullivan, on the DL all year with a lower back strain, will have surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles. ... Oakland DH Scott Hatteberg, nursing a strained muscle in his right side, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth. ... The A's won the first four meetings of the season series. ... Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero had 25 RBI since the Royals' last win.
- Home Plate Umpire - Joe Brinkman
- First Base Umpire - Bill Miller
- Second Base Umpire - Jeff Nelson
- Third Base Umpire - Derryl Cousins