The Kansas City Royals long ago reached the point in the season when they were forced to play for pride while attempting to achieve individual goals.
It's now time for the Baltimore Orioles to do the same thing.
The Royals completed their first sweep of Baltimore since 1991 and stretched the Orioles' losing streak to seven games Sunday, turning a two-run deficit into a 3-2 victory.
Mendy Lopez doubled in two runs in a three-run fifth inning that lifted the Royals to their ninth win in 11 games. Kansas City turned three double plays and had eight in the three-game series.
Although the Royals fell out of the playoff picture long ago, they haven't stopped competing. Their third consecutive one-run victory gave them their first three-game sweep of Baltimore since June 1991, the year before the Orioles moved to Camden Yards.
"I think it's a compliment to their character. We've had a lot of tough times this year and we've lost our share of tough ballgames," Kansas City manager Tony Muser said. "We've been in offensive slumps, we've been in pitching slumps. My hats off to the character of that room in there. They've stayed together."
The Orioles, who have a major-league record $69 million payroll, made a belated run at the playoffs with a 31-10 surge after the All-Star break. But their seven-game skid has left them with the prospect of playing out the string in September.
"The only way you can turn the tide is for everyone to go out and say, `This is it. We're going to win today,"' manger Ray Miller said. "I try to do that every day and I've got to get everyone else to believe the same way."
But Miller conceded the Orioles have little motivation except to increase their personal numbers.
"My plan is to have the guys having good years to get every chance they can to have as good a year as possible," he said. "I'll try to work in some people we might want to look at, but I have an obligation to the guys who have played hard all year."
Mike Bordick homered for Baltimore, which has endured three losing streaks of at least seven games this season.
Oriole starter Juan Guzman (8-14) struck out eight in seven innings, but four of the six hits he allowed came in the pivotal fifth inning.
Kansas City, held to one hit through four innings, took a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Jeff Conine doubled and Mike Sweeney singled before Lopez hit a two-run double and Hal Morris blooped a run-scoring single to center.
"We got ourselves in such a hole early in the year," Morris said. "We've been playing almost the whole year trying to come out and create an environment to get the most out of ourselves. We have a lot of pride in being professionals."
Four Kansas City pitchers limited Baltimore to six hits. Chris Haney (6-6) worked the first five innings and Jeff Montgomery got three outs for his 31st save -- and third in the series.
"We come in and play well against a team like Baltimore, it makes you feel like there is some hope," Montgomery said.
The Orioles got a run in the first when Haney walked B.J. Surhoff with the bases loaded and two outs. Bordick's 10th homer of the season, a line drive that barely reached the front row of the left-field seats, made it 2-0 in the third.
That was the extent of the Baltimore offense.
"You play because this is your job," said Jimmy Key, who threw two scoreless innings in relief. "This is what you enjoy doing. Whether you are playing for first place or second place, you're still a professional and you go out and play the game. Hopefully we'll have a good last month and finish as good as we can finish."
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