Kansas City's Larry Gura pitched yesterday as Mike Flanagan did last season when Flanagan won the Cy Young Award.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, Flanagan was not in Cy Young form. The Royals roughed him for nine hits and four runs and received seven-hit pitching by Gura for a 5-1 win over the Orioles, before 21,311 at Memorial Stadium.
In gaining his 11th win in 15 decisions, Gura struck out two, walked two and lowered his league-leading earned-run average to 2.22.
Flanagan (8-8) was not sharp in his 3 1/3-inning stint.
"He threw the ball well," said Royal third baseman George Brett. "of the nine hits we had off him, only three were hit hard."
Flanagan's troubles began in the second inning when designated hitter Hal McRae, who later hit two doubles, grounded an infield hit up the middle and stole second base after two outs. He scored on Frank White's grounder, which shortstop Kiko Garcia knocked down with a dive.
Garcia aggravated an Achilles tendon injury and had to leave the game in the bottom of the inning.
Flanagan encountered more difficulty in the third. Willie Wilson led off with a single off Eddie Murray's glove, and Brett lined a one-out single to center. Amos Otis' long fly advanced both runners before McRae doubled down the left-field line, with the ball falling just short of left fielder Benny Ayala's desperate lunge.
Kansas City chased Flanagan in the fourth. White hit a one-out double off Ayala's hand and Rusty Torres singled sharply to left, scoring White. When Wilson followed with a pop single to right, Flanagan was lifted.
Dennis Martinez, making his first appearance since June 2 after coming off the disabled list, retired the side. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing only one run and five hits, while striking out two and walking three.
"I'm not worried about Mike," said O's pitching coach Ray Miller. "He threw as well today as he had in his past six or seven starts. He just got beat, making some good pitches, especially the one McRae hit for a double."
The Birds scored their only run in the fourth. Ken Singleton, Murray and Ayala opened the inning with singles to load the bases and a rally seemed imminent.
Gura caught Lee May looking at strike three. Rick Dempsey's sacrifice fly scored Singleton and Fura retired Mark Belanger on a fly to center to close out the Birds.
Gura turned away the Orioles in the sixth inning after Singleton's leadoff walk and a single by Murray. Gura induced Ayala to ground into a double play and May grounded out.
"I didn't feel really good all the way through," Gura said. "I haven't pitched in 10 to 11 days (because of the All-Star break) and I didn't feel any rhythm. It was a lot of guesswork."
Gura's guesswork baffled the Birds all afternoon and sent Baltimore to its fifth loss in eight games. Baltimore is now 10 games behind the division-leading New York yankees.
Baltimore played without Doug DeCinces, who was scratched from the lineup because of muscle spasms in his back. The Birds will probably play Monday's game without DeCinces, Garcia, and Murray.
Murray was taken to the hospital for stitches after he was hit above the right eye when Brett's sharp grounder took a bad hop in the eighth inning. Kansas City's final run scored on that play.
"We'll just have to wait and see if any of them will play tomorrow" said Manager Earl Weaver. "Doug is going to the doctor for more X-rays and Kiko will just rest, but we'll have to see about Eddie's eye when tomorrow comes."
Despite the loss, the Birds have to be delighted about Martinez's performance. He is scheduled to start in Milwaukee on Thursday.
"I've seen him throw harder before, but he used all his pitches and mixed them up well today," said Miller. "If it wasn't for that bad hop, Dennis might have had five shutout innings."