Without two of their big offensive guns and matched against Kansas City's stalwart Gil Meche, the Orioles nevertheless started their 10-game road trip with a bang on Thursday night by racking up seven runs combined over the fifth and sixth innings and racing off to a 9-5 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Baltimore right-hander Jeremy Guthrie wasn't at his best, but still picked up the win thanks to a relentless offensive thrust during the middle portion of the game.
"When you've got two of your bigger guys out, Jones and Scott, you need to have contributions from some other people, and we got that tonight," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said.
Trembley decided to use shortstop Cesar Izturis in the No. 2 slot, and that move paid off with huge dividends. Izturis put the Orioles ahead to stay with a two-run triple off Meche in the fifth inning. He followed with a run-scoring single in the sixth when Baltimore added three tack-on runs to go up 8-4.
The top of the lineup was particularly effective as Brian Roberts, Izturis and Nick Markakis combined for six hits, six RBIs and six runs scored.
For a Baltimore team that had started this long trip just 3-9 on the road, it was a most satisfying night all the way around.
"We're looking to get back on track on the road, and this is a very good way for us to start," Trembley said.
The Orioles were trailing, 2-0, until the fourth, when Aubrey Huff's solo homer off Meche jump-started the offense. Baltimore knocked out Meche in a four-run fifth and then did more damage in the sixth against hard-throwing reliever Robinson Tejeda.
Guthrie got through a shaky fifth to preserve a 5-4 lead. With two on and two outs, he got Mike Jacobs on a roller to second after falling behind in the count, 2-0.
"I threw a two-seam fastball that ran a hair enough away from him," Guthrie said. "I was just fortunate to get that third out and then see our team go put more runs on the board."
The bullpen trio of Danys Baez, Jamie Walker and Jim Johnson held steady as the Baltimore offense provided some breathing room.
"This was a team win," Guthrie said. "I got a 'W' next to my name, but I've had outings where I've pitched better and had a loss. As a baseball player, you have to be honest with yourself."
The Royals, who got a three-RBI night from Billy Butler, felt the dagger when Markakis delivered a two-run double that made it 8-4 in the sixth.
"The guys in front of me were on base all night," Markakis said. "When that happens, it makes it comfortable to hit. It's always fun to drive guys in. Being able to get hits with guys in scoring position is how you win ballgames."
The Orioles will have to face reigning American League Pitcher of the Month Zack Greinke on Friday, so it behooved them to start the four-game series with some offensive flair.
Meche lasted just 4 1/3 innings, and the homer he surrendered to Huff was the first off him since Sept. 12, 2008, a span of 67 2/3 innings. Meche is winless in his last nine starts vs. the Orioles.
"You want to make their bullpen use as many guys as possible over a four-game series," Markakis said. "Meche has great stuff, but we just put some good swings on the ball today and good things happened."
The Orioles (15-20) took advantage of the first three-RBI game by Izturis since April 19, 2005. Prior to the game, Trembley had said he was putting Izturis in the No. 2 slot because "he's swinging the bat pretty well right now."
Izturis promptly made his manager look good on a night when the Orioles' offense flourished despite the absences of Scott and Jones.
"Cesar made things happen," Markakis said. "He puts the ball in play and it was good seeing him in that No. 2 spot. It was a big night for us, and now we just have to keep it going."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.