for this game

Surprising O's eye another win over Royals

May 26, 2012 - 2:26 PM (Sports Network) - Early in the season the Baltimore Orioles were considered a surprise, but with every passing game they are proving that their success is anything but a fluke.

The O's continued to roll on Friday night with an 8-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game set at Camden Yards. Baltimore's seventh win in its last 10 games brings its record to an amazing 29-17, the best mark in the American League and just one off the Dodgers for the major league lead.

Jason Hammel (6-1) continued his terrific campaign, throwing six scoreless innings while striking out seven in front of a nearly packed house at Camden Yards.

"Outstanding crowd tonight," Hammel said. "If they are backing us, we are going to feel even better about ourselves. It's been fun to see the stands filling up now. We want to just continue to play good baseball for them."

The Orioles got things started in the bottom of the first inning with an Adam Jones sacrifice fly. The bats went silent until a five-run outburst in the fifth inning put the game out of reach.

J.J Hardy had two hits and a two RBI, and Chris Davis added a pair of hits, including a two-run homer, his seventh of the season.

Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar each had three hits for Kansas City, who have lost three straight. Francoeur also hit his fourth home run of the season.

Bruce Chen (3-5) was saddled with the loss for the Royals, allowing six earned runs in four innings.

The Royals will try to rebound on Saturday with Felipe Paulino, who has been a diamond in the rough for an otherwise maligned Kansas City pitching staff early in the 2012 campaign.

The right-hander had one hiccup thus far this season where he allowed four earned runs in a 5-0 loss to the White Sox on May 11, but take away that start and he has been flat-out dominant, allowing zero earned runs over 18 2/3 innings spanning his other three starts.

Paulino managed to shut down the Yankees on Monday, allowing no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, marking the second time he's blanked New York this month. He also struck out eight, raising his season total to 29 in 25 1/3 innings.

Paulino allowed eight baserunners in the outing, but showed poise by buckling down with runners on.

"[Paulino had] bases loaded, nobody out against the meat of their order and he got through it." said Royals manager Ned Yost of his hurler. "He's pitching really, really well."

Paulino faced off against the Orioles on May 16 and pitched perhaps his most impressive game of the season, striking out nine over seven innings and again allowing no runs, but he earned a no decision as Baltimore won 4-3.

Taking the hill for the Orioles today will be Wei-Yin Chen, who has certainly made a splash in his first eight starts of his major league career, allowing two earned runs or less six times.

After cruising to a 4-0 start, Chen finally ran into trouble in his last outing against Washington on Sunday after allowing eight hits, three walks, and six earned runs while failing to record five innings pitched for the first time in his career.

The southpaw has never faced the Royals.