Royals drop 10th straight as Ricky Romero paces Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ricky Romero keeps winning and the Kansas City Royals keep losing.

Romero won his third straight start, Brett Lawrie stole home and drove in two runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Kansas City 5-3 Sunday, sending the Royals to their 10th straight loss.

The Royals have only six skids longer than 10 in franchise history. It is their longest losing streak since dropping 12 straight May 19-30, 2008. Romero (3-0), who is 11-2 in 17 starts since July 21, gave up two runs on five hits in eight innings to earn the victory. In winning his past three starts, Romero has allowed 16 hits and six runs over 22 1/3 innings.

"He was efficient with his pitches," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He got an early ground ball double plays. He pitched ahead in the count for the most part. I think given the conditions today, it wasn't his cleanest game, but it shows the kind of stuff he has and the late life to all his pitches.

"With their aggression and his life in through the zone, he's going to get a number of miss-hits and that was the case today. We scratched out some runs and that was the difference particularly the way Ricky pitched."

The Royals managed a couple of runs off Romero in the fifth, but those were aided by a Blue Jays error.

"I got outs and got deep into the game," Romero said. "That's my goal every time I take the mound. By doing that you've got to throw strikes. I had a little bit of a hiccup in that one inning. I thought I battled pretty good back from that. I just kept pounding the zone and let the defense work. "

"When you throw strikes and pound the zone, you keep the hitters swinging, let the defense work and get some quick innings here and there and the next thing you know you find yourself in the eighth."

The Blue Jays scored four runs in the fifth to chase Royals left-hander Danny Duffy. Lawrie's two-out single to right scored Yunel Escobar and Jose Bautista. Rajai Davis led off the inning with a double and scored on Escobar's single. Bautista, who walked three times, singled home J.P. Arencibia with the other run.

Duffy labored through 4 2/3 innings, throwing 113 pitches and walking five. He did not give up a hit until Ben Francisco singled with two outs in the fourth, but yielded four hits and two walks in the fifth while retiring only two.

The Royals cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning, which Jeff Francoeur and Mike Moustakas started with singles. Francoeur scored on an Alcides Escobar fielder's choice grounder, while Moustakas scored on Yunel Escobar's throwing error.

The Blue Jays added a run in the eighth, when Lawrie, who had walked and went to third on Arencibia's single, pulled off a double steal. Arencibia broke for second and catcher Humberto Quintero fired to second baseman Yuniesky Betancourt. Lawrie broke for home and beat Betancourt's throw to the plate.

"We ran a double steal in the eighth inning, which turned out to be a pretty big run," Farrell said.

The Royals, who have had one winning season since 1994, again find themselves in a deep hole to start this season.

"This is not even a hole," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. "We finished 32 games under .500 (in 2009) That's a hole."

Francisco Cordero gave up a run in the ninth, but logged his first save in his first opportunity. Cordero, who will serve as Toronto's closer with Sergio Santos going on the disabled list, collected his 328th career save.

Moustakas singled home Betancourt for the ninth inning run, but pinch-hitter Brayan Pena grounded into a game inning double play on the first pitch with runners on the corners.

"If you get nervous, you're in the wrong business," Cordero said. "I talk to myself and say we've got a chance for a double play right here, just make a good pitch or just go one hitter at a time. In the beginning when I was young, sometime I get nervous, but not anymore. I've been doing this for so long. All I've got to do is step off, take a little breather and make a good pitch.

"You're in trouble, but one pitch can get you out of the inning. That's what I did. I threw a good two-seam down-and-away, he grounded to second and the perfect double play. Now we go home happy. I get the save, we get the 'w.' "

Game notes
Santos, who has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation, will fly Monday to Los Angeles to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum. "We have a protocol for all our players and we'll follow it with Sergio," Farrell said. ... Bautista has 11 hits, but has drawn 14 walks. ... A bone scan of Royals RHP Greg Holland revealed no stress fracture of his left rib, which has a stress reaction. Holland will be shut down for five days and likely be out three weeks. .... The Royals have lost a club record 10 straight home games, dating to last season. ... The Blue Jays have never swept a four-game series at Kansas City, but with a Monday victory could accomplish that.

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