For the first (and still only) time in franchise history, the Royals reached the 100-win mark, coasting to a 6-3 win over California on Thursday night at Royals Stadium.
Despite running out a lineup of reserves, Kansas City scored three runs in the first and salted the game away with three more runs in the middle innings. In the first inning, Willie Wilson led off with a single against Angels starter Wayne Simpson. Wilson stole second and scored on a Tom Poquette single. With one out, singles by Joe Lahoud, Pete LaCock, and Cookie Rojas produced two more runs.
Clint Hurdle led off the fifth with a home run. With one out, LaCock doubled, and a Buck Martinez single with one out brought him in for a 5-0 lead.
That finished Simpson’s evening, and reliever Balor Moore got the last out of the inning. But in the sixth, Wilson doubled with one out and Hurdle singled, pushing the Royals’ lead to 6-0.
Meanwhile, Royals starter Larry Gura was perfect through the first four innings, and did not allow a baserunner until Dave Chalk dumped a single into center with two outs in the fifth. Gura also worked around a leadoff triple from Ken Landreaux in the sixth to maintain his shutout, but California finally scored in the eighth, thanks in part to the pitcher. Chalk started the inning with a single. Gura tried a pickoff but threw the ball well over LaCock’s head, allowing Chalk to reach third. When Gil Flores singled, California was finally on the scoreboard. The pickoff throw earned Gura the team’s Gong Award after the game, a locker room “award” given for the most embarrassing play of the game.
“It looks like the first time this year I’ve gotten it,” Gura said. “But I guess I might as well go all the way. I never even should have thrown over there. With a 6-1 lead, who cares what the runner is doing?”
California would put together a rally in the ninth. Bobby Bonds led off with an infield single. With one out, Mario Guerrero reached on an error by shortstop U L Washington. Don Baylor followed with a single, scoring Bonds. Reliever Doug Bird replaced Gura and got the second out. But Chalk singled again, scoring Guerrero, before Bird struck out Tony Solaita to end the game.
With the win, the Royals ended a four-game losing streak and improved to 100-59. They held a nine-game lead in the AL West.
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Today’s birthdays: Mike McCormick (1938), Steve Busby (1949), Warren Cromartie (1953), Calvin Pickering (1976), Miguel Asencio (1980)