Alfredo Simon, who spent two months in a Dominican Republic prison this year and didn't show up to spring training until after the team headed north, continued his emergence as a solid starter Tuesday in the Orioles' 8-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
New Year's Day shooting death of his cousin, the Orioles didn't count on him being with the team this season. Now, with a hearing in the case not scheduled until October, Simon is pitching like he wants to stay for a long time.
Simon's presence is desperately needed because the Orioles announced earlier Tuesday that their leader in wins, Jake Arrieta, will have his elbow re-examined next week in California and could miss the rest of the season. They also released oft-injured right-hander Justin Duchscherer, meaning that of their projected rotation in February, only veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie remains a consistent starter.
Simon, who was the team's closer for much of 2010, made just his fifth start this season and kept the Royals (46-63) off balance for seven strong innings. He allowed just four hits, one walk and one run while striking out three batters. Simon (3-4) has yet to give up more than three runs in any of his five starts this season. Two of his three wins have come against the Royals.
The only run he allowed was in the first, when rookie Eric Hosmer doubled home Melky Cabrera. Simon retired 11 straight batters after that until Brayan Pena reached on an error in the fifth. He didn't give up another hit until Billy Butler's single in the sixth.
His performance, in 107-degree heat, allowed the Orioles (43-63) to break their three-game losing streak and win for just the third time in eight tries on this 10-game trip. Strangely, they have captured the opener in each of the three series on the road but have won none of the other games.
The Orioles took the lead in a two-run third against former Oriole Bruce Chen. J.J. Hardy, who had been in hitless in his previous 18 at-bats, led off the inning with a single to center. Chen walked two of the next three batters, then Mark Reynolds, who was a career .127 hitter with the bases loaded, smacked a two-run double to left.
They added an additional run in the fifth against Chen (5-5). With two outs, Reynolds singled and Matt Wieters followed with a 13-pitch walk that included seven consecutive foul balls.
That set up Chris Davis' first hit and first RBI as an Oriole. Davis, whom the Orioles acquired Saturday from the Texas Rangers in the Koji Uehara deal, hit a bouncer that Chen deflected and shortstop Alcides Escobar couldn't corral. Reynolds scored from second.
It chased Chen from the game after he had allowed seven hits, four walks and three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. The lefty threw 115 pitches.
The Orioles tacked on a fourth run in the sixth against reliever Louis Coleman when Hardy doubled home Robert Andino, who had bunted for a single. Reynolds put the game out of reach in the ninth against Everett Teaford with his 24th homer of the season, a three-run shot to left that went an estimated 426 feet.
Reynolds' five RBIs tied a career high that he has achieved four times. The previous three came as an Arizona Diamondback.
Davis followed two batters later with a 398-foot solo homer to left against Teaford.
Hardy reached base three times, but he also made an error. The sure-handed shortstop had made just two miscues all season until Saturday in New York. He has committed an error in three consecutive games.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, who was acquired with Davis on Saturday, made his Orioles debut in the eighth inning. He gave up one run -- a sacrifice fly by Butler -- on two hits in one inning. He also hit 97 mph on the stadium radar gun
Hunter likely will end up in the rotation -- perhaps as soon as Friday -- but it looks like the Orioles need one fewer replacement with the continued emergence of Simon.
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