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Old 04-10-2003, 09:26 AM  
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4/10 KC Star Royals report: Mayne delivers with bat and glove

Royals report: Mayne delivers with bat and glove

By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Thu, Apr. 10, 2003

DETROIT - Things can't get much better for Royals catcher Brent Mayne.

Not only did he get three more hits Wednesday -- including a three-run homer -- in a 9-6 victory over the Tigers, but he also blunted a Detroit comeback by making the game's key defensive play.

"Pretty much, that's how things are going right now," he said. "I'm just hitting the ball good. Actually, I'm hitting the ball good and I'm not hitting the ball good. Either way, I'm getting hits."

Mayne is so hot that his three hits in five at-bats merely maintained his average -- at .600. Overall, he is 12 for 20.

But it was his defensive play that saved Wednesday's victory.

The Tigers had closed a 9-1 deficit to 9-6 and had the first two runners aboard in the seventh via walks from reliever Albie Lopez with the middle of the order coming up.

Lopez then bounced a pitch to Carlos Pena, which prompted Detroit's Omar Infante to break from first.

"I just blocked the ball," Mayne said, "and out of the corner of my eye, I could see (Infante) was off a little bit. And (first baseman Mike) Sweeney was yelling.

"So, I just picked it up and threw it to first. It turned out to be a pretty good play."

Infante's mistake forced Bobby Higginson to take off for third. Sweeney's throw to third baseman Joe Randa made Higginson retreat toward second. But Infante was there, too. Randa tagged both players, Higginson was declared out.

"If we're not into it," Sweeney said, "maybe the ball gets by Mayner and they have runners on second and third with nobody out."

Instead, the Tigers had a runner on second with one out.

The play seemed to steady Lopez, who struck out Pena and cleanup hitter Dmitri Young.

Affeldt's first

Royals starter Jeremy Affeldt got his first career victory as a starter but wasn't pleased by his inability to get through the sixth inning.

"I definitely feel I pitched better than what I've got for my line," said Affeldt, who allowed just one hit through five innings. "I don't think my line tells the story of how I pitched."

Officially, Affeldt was charged with five earned runs in 52/3 innings, which raised his ERA to 5.56. He also lasted 52/3 innings in his previous start, when he yielded two runs to the White Sox.

"It's just disappointing," Affeldt said. "That's my second start in a row when I was one out away from getting out of the sixth and getting a quality start.

"Those are the frustrating outings. You walk away thinking, `Man, I pitched a lot better than five earned runs.' But you know what? It's a `W.' "

Affeldt was 0-4 in seven starts last season but picked up three victories in relief.

Brown's slam

The last pitch that Dee Brown expected to see from Tigers reliever Wilfredo Ledezma in the third inning was a curve.

Brown had just watched Ledezma struggle to control his curve while making his warm-up pitches after replacing starter Jeremy Bonderman with the bases loaded and one out.

"He couldn't get on top of it," Brown said. "He kept leaving it high. So, I figured I wouldn't see a curve. I was looking for a fastball. But he kind of just hung the curve up there."

Brown jumped all over it, pulling it over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

"Honestly," Brown said, "this is the first time I felt like I contributed to a win. I didn't do much in my two games last week."

Etc.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran is scheduled to leave today for Arizona to begin his rehab playing assignment for his strained right oblique. Beltran said he expects to rejoin the Royals by April 18.

Mike MacDougal became the first pitcher in the majors with four saves.

The Royals are batting .313 as a team.

Mike Sweeney doesn't have a hit in his last 15 plate appearances but that streak includes six walks and two sacrifice flies.

On deck

The Royals and Tigers conclude their series at 12:05 this afternoon. Right-hander Miguel Asencio, 0-0 with a 7.20 ERA, is scheduled to pitch against Detroit righty Mike Maroth, 0-2 and 4.76.
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