Jeff King volunteered to return to third base to help the Kansas City Royals get through injury problems. He wound up winning a game for them with a homer and two nice defensive plays.
King hit his fourth homer on the Royals' eight-game road trip and Shane Mack added a solo shot for a 3-0 victory Monday night that extended the Cincinnati Reds' losing streak to nine games.
With Dean Palmer sidelined by a strained thigh and Terry Pendleton on the disabled list, manager Tony Muser planned to start Jeff Conine at third base. King, who played third with Pittsburgh before moving to first base with the Royals the last two seasons, offered his services.
He snared Mike Frank's liner to start a double play in the third and turned Mike Remlinger's bases-loaded grounder into an inning-ending double play in the fourth, the two biggest plays of the game.
"King did a great job over there," Muser said. "Really, it was his idea. I didn't pencil him in. He came to me and said, `I'll do this.' I thank him and the club thanks him."
"I wasn't sure what to expect," King said. "I hadn't played there in a couple of years. It could have been a lot worse."
Things can't get much worse for the Reds, who are in their worst slump in more than two years and had more turmoil before the game when hitting coach Ken Griffey angrily left the stadium. He's expected to return on Tuesday and won't be fined.
"The hitting coach can't be blamed. He doesn't go up to the plate," manager Jack McKeon said. "The pitching coach doesn't take the mound. The responsibility belongs to those guys on stage."
Cincinnati has lost 17 of 20 in June to fall to 30-47. That's a game worse than the 1982 team, which opened 31-46 and finished 61-101 to set the franchise record for losses in a season.
Jim Pittsley (1-1) allowed six hits over five shutout innings and matched his career high with six strikeouts as he got his first win since last Sept. 23. Ricky Bones allowed two hits over two-plus innings, Matt Whisenant pitched out of a threat in the eighth and Jeff Montgomery pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 18 chances.
Kansas City has won seven of nine and gone 6-2 on a road trip that concludes Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Remlinger (4-9) gave up six hits over seven innings, including the two homers, as he lost for the sixth time in his last seven decisions. He struck out six in the first two innings but made two first-pitch mistakes to turn the game.
Jose Offerman walked on a full count with two outs in the first and King hit his 15th homer on the first pitch, a drive into the second deck in left field. King has been the Royals' offensive catalyst on the road trip with four homers and 11 RBIs.
"I hadn't seen him since spring trainin," Remlinger said. "I obviously didn't think he'd be swinging at the first pitch."
Mack led off the fourth inning with his fifth homer, also on the first pitch.
Pittsley rebounded from a drubbing in his only other start six runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss in Houston on June 7. He pitched out of the Reds' best threat in the fourth, when Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out to bring up Remlinger, who was 3-for-27 without an RBI this season.
Remlinger grounded softly to third, where King started a double play that ended the inning.
"It's just hard to believe it could get worse," Remlinger said.
Cincinnati was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, adding to its month of woe at the plate. The Reds have scored two or fewer runs 13 times in June and are hitting .163 with runners in scoring position during the nine-game skid.
Notes: The Royals also played a three-game series at Cinergy Field last season, losing two of three. ... The Royals reinstated outfielder Roderick Myers from the disabled list and optioned him to Double-A Wichita. ... Pittsley improved to 6-8 career, with all of the wins coming as a starter. ... Kansas City has won the opening game in each of its last six series. ... Jermaine Dye went 0-for-3, extending his slump to 1-for-24. ... Cincinnati's last nine-game losing streak was April 21 to May 1, 1996, under manager Ray Knight. ... Reggie Sanders broke an 0-for-22 slump with a third-inning single.
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