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BAL@KC: Reynolds drives in five against the Royals

KANSAS CITY -- In wake of the uncertainty from an Orioles rotation, which has been hit by injury and underperformance all year, Alfredo Simon did his best to offset the most recent punch to the gut.

Simon, who missed all of Spring Training tending to legal issues in the Dominican Republic, continued to be a badly-needed stabilizing force for a depleted pitching corps, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball in the Orioles 8-2 win over the Royals on Tuesday night. While his performance by no means erased the earlier news -- Jake Arrieta missing his next start and possibly the remainder of the season -- Simon provided some much-needed solace for an Orioles club that hadn't won since Friday night and has lost nine straight series.

Tuesday's series-opening victory, in front of a crowd of 17,116 at Kauffman Stadium, was highlighted by a five-RBI night from Mark Reynolds, who tied his career high and clubbed his 24th homer of the season in the process. The Orioles improved to 5-2 against Kansas City this year and Simon -- who faced a game-time temperature of 107-degrees -- picked up his second win in five starts since moving into the rotation.

"He'll be the first to tell you that some of his lack of opportunities have been self-inflicted by some of the challenges he's got off the field," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Simon, who didn't appear in a game until May 24. "He's seized the opportunity, so far. We'll see where it takes us, but ... he's got a good look in his eye, right now."

With Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie the lone arm remaining from this spring's projected rotation, Simon has taken his chance and run with it, giving the Orioles some badly-needed quality outings.

"My arm's getting a little [stronger], and I feel way better with all my pitches," said Simon, who has gone six or more innings in three of his last four starts.

"Everybody look[s] at me, like I know I was in a situation in trouble, but I just try to show the best I can that I can be a starting pitcher in this rotation."

After giving up a first-inning run, Simon buckled down -- retiring 11 straight at one point -- to turn in his best start of the season.

"He was throwing hard, mixing that changeup with that same arm action," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's tough to pick up."

"He kept us off-balance with those pitches," added Royals manager Ned Yost. "We couldn't really do much against him, no, never got the bats going against him at all."

Simon got all the offensive help he needed from Reynolds, who grounded into an inning-ending double play to strand the bases loaded in the first inning but bounced back in a big way. Reynolds doubled in a pair of runs in the third, and let loose on a 3-1 pitch from Everett Teaford, sending the ball 426 feet for a three-run, ninth-inning homer.

"That's one of the challenges you face up here, being mentally tough," Showalter said of Reynolds coming up big later on. "I patted him on the back when he came in between innings. And I said, 'You'll get another big at-bat here, so let's go.' And he was up to the challenge. I thought the double was probably the key at-bat of the night."

Chris Davis followed Reynolds' ninth-inning homer with a solo shot to extend the Orioles' lead to six. Davis, who was traded from Texas on Saturday night, picked up his first hit in an Orioles uniform with a fifth-inning RBI single to chase starter Bruce Chen. The Orioles collected seven hits and four walks off Chen, and J.J. Hardy added an RBI double off reliever Louis Coleman in the sixth.

Tommy Hunter, acquired along with Davis, made his Orioles debut and allowed two singles and a run in the eighth.

"Tommy was impressive tonight, bent but didn't break," said Showalter, who wanted Hunter, a candidate to start on Friday, to get one inning of work to supplement a typical bullpen.

"Keep in mind, this guy has had a whirlwind last two or three days. ... Our two guys that came over [from Texas], tonight were very impressive." Comments