KANSAS CITY, JULY 27 -- Move over Nolan Ryan. Ben McDonald only needs 297 more wins to reach 300.
The Orioles' prize pitcher is still perfect as a starter, pitching Baltimore past Kansas City, 9-2, tonight before 32,935 at Royals Stadium.
It was only McDonald's second major league start, and while it wasn't as pretty as last Saturday's four-hit shutout over the White Sox, it was impressive. The 6-foot-7 righthander struck out seven -- a career high -- and scattered six hits in 6 2/3 innings, improving to 2-0 this year (he won one game as a reliever last year).
"I think I showed a little composure," said McDonald, who threw 111 pitches, 59 for strikes. "I gave up a couple of runs, but then again, I pitched out of some tough situations. I lost my mechanics and my rhythm a couple of times. I knew what I was doing wrong, but I couldn't correct it."
McDonald had a little help winning this one: The Orioles came up with 14 hits -- including four from Phil Bradley and three from Bill Ripken -- in improving to 48-50, 4 1/2 games behind Toronto, which beat Texas, 1-0.
The Orioles have won six of their last eight games and eight of their last 11. Since being a season-high 11 games back on July 6, they are 13-5.
McDonald pitched out of trouble several times. The Royals touched him for single runs in the first and sixth innings, and it could have been worse but for some timely strikeouts.
Former Oriole Storm Davis (4-7) took the loss, giving up nine hits and five runs (four earned) in three-plus innings.
The Royals (45-52), victimized by injuries, are in last place in the AL West, 16 games behind Oakland.
Royals designated hitter George Brett went zero for three with a walk and a sacrifice, ending his hitting streak at 16 games.
He had nothing but praise for McDonald. "That's the best stuff I've seen all year, without a doubt," said Brett, who has hit .448 since the all-star break. "I hope that was exceptional stuff and not just so-so. Because if that was just his so-so stuff, a lot of hitters are going to be in trouble."
Told about Brett's comment, McDonald was equally full of praise. "That's a great compliment coming from him," said McDonald. "He's a great one and he's the toughest out in their lineup."
Orioles Manager Frank Robinson saw some things he didn't see in McDonald's impressive first start last week. "His control wasn't as sharp, but he made some good pitches when he needed them," said Robinson.
"He's had two outings back to back that I would call good outings. No one expects him to do what he did last time every time. But this was more indicative of what you might see consistently."
The Orioles took an early lead because McDonald pitched his way out of trouble and Davis didn't.
The Orioles scored two runs in the first, two in the second and one in the third, despite hitting into bases-loaded double plays in each inning.
Brady Anderson had three RBI and Bradley had two to lead the Orioles.
They have had some offensive troubles lately, even though they've been winning. In their last 10 games coming in to tonight, the Orioles batted just .226, but still won seven.
The Royals made sure early they would not be McDonald's second shutout victim in as many major league starts, answering with a run in the bottom half of the first.
Brett got the RBI, hitting a one-out line drive to right to score Kevin Seitzer, who had singled and moved to third on a single by Gerald Perry.
McDonald got out of the inning by picking Perry off first base, pumping his fists as he ran back to the dugout.
McDonald had another scary inning in the second, giving up a one-out walk to Jeff Schultz and a double to Pat Tabler -- his 1,000th career hit -- putting runners on second and third.
But he struck out Mike Macfarlane and Kurt Stillwell on two gorgeous slow curves.
"The pitch I threw to Macfarlane was the best curve I threw all night," McDonald said.
If Baltimore thinks it has had injury trouble this year, it should take a look at the woeful Royals, who today placed pitcher Luis Aquino on the 21-day disabled list, the 12th time Kansas City has used the DL this season. To replace Aquino, the Royals purchased the contract of pitcher Luis Encarnacion from Omaha (AAA). Also today, the club announced pitcher Mark Gubicza will have arthroscopic surgery Thursday to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. Currently, the Royals have five players -- Danny Tartabull, Bo Jackson, Bret Saberhagen, Aquino and Gubicza -- on the disabled list. . . . Royals Manager John Wathan said it's no coincidence Brett's hot streak has come at a time when the team is hurting. "He's good at carrying people," Wathan said.