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KC@BAL: Machado launches his first two career homers

BALTIMORE -- If reaching 60 wins quicker than any year since 1998 and being well ahead of schedule to snap a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons isn't enough evidence, Manny Machado is here to drive the point home.

"It's a new era," Machado said. "We haven't won in a long time and this ballclub has been winning without me. And hopefully now that I'm up here, I can contribute."

If his performances going forward look anything like Friday night's, "contribute" is a monumental understatement.

In just his second career game, the Orioles' top position player prospect launched his first two Major League home runs, as the Orioles beat the Royals, 7-1, to even the series at Camden Yards.

The win was the O's sixth in their past seven games, ensuring that their place atop the American League Wild Card standings is secure for at least another day.

"[Manager] Buck [Showalter] brought me up for a reason, and it was to help this team," Machado said. "So, I'm going to do anything I can to help this team and try to make a playoff [game]."

Machado -- just 20 years and 35 days old -- became the youngest player in Orioles history to record a multihomer game.

Both blasts landed in the exact same spot in the left-field stands, and each came on a hanging breaking pitch from Royals starter Luke Hochevar.

In the fifth, Machado belted a hanging slider on the inner half for a solo shot to push the Orioles' lead to 3-1.

"It was the best feeling ever," Machado said. "The crowd here loves me, and for them to support me like that, after my first home run, it just felt great."

Machado took another hanger from Hochevar -- this one a curveball over the heart of the plate -- and hit it to the very same fan in the sixth, a three-run blast that all but put the game away as the Orioles took a 7-1 lead.

After a little prodding from Adam Jones, Machado stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call, waving to the crowd of 17,277 that was giving him a standing ovation and chanting his name.

"I've dreamed about that my whole life," Machado said.

While Machado's performance stole the show, O's starter Miguel Gonzalez was stellar in his own right.

A much less heralded rookie -- he struggled to even get innings in the O's Minor League camp this spring -- Gonzalez held the Royals to just one run in a career-high eight innings.

Building on his seven shutout innings in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Gonzalez faced the minimum in five of his eight frames, effectively mixing in his changeup to keep Royals hitters off-balance.

After Kansas City jumped on Wei-Yin Chen's fastball on Thursday to score four runs in the first eight pitches, Gonzalez threw more of his offspeed stuff early on.

"I'm getting comfortable," Gonzalez said. "I stayed aggressive. I stayed in and out, changing pitches. That's what helped me out tonight."

But, when it came time to get key outs, Gonzalez still relied on his fastball.

After Chris Getz and Jarrod Dyson hit back-to-back one-out singles in the fifth, Gonzalez struck out Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar with 11 consecutive fastballs to end the threat.

"His fastball was very deceiving and sneaky, and he really located it well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You think you can get on it and at the last second it had that little hop, and you ended up popping it up."

"He's real deceptive," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. "The ball just kind of got on you. Had some late movement on his ball."

Aside from a difficult July 25 start against Tampa Bay when he pitched through the flu, Gonzalez is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA.

"Can't say enough about Miguel," said second baseman Omar Quintanilla, who hit a two-run homer to give the O's a 2-1 lead in the second. "He did a great job tonight and, overall, a great team effort."

The bottom three hitters in the O's lineup finished 7-for-12 with all seven RBIs, spurred on by Machado's historic performance.

"It's one of those nights that you're really honored and lucky just to watch," Showalter said. "I look at it more from a city of Baltimore standpoint. He'll put it behind him and realize there's another challenge tomorrow."

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