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05/17/2014 10:56 PM EDT
Duffy tosses gem as Royals blank Orioles 1-0
KANSAS CITY 1, BALTIMORE 0

By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Danny Duffy walked briskly to the mound
to start the seventh inning Saturday night, ready to throw his
first warm-up pitch before anybody else on his team had even
taken the field.

The Royals left-hander was in that kind of rhythm.

Duffy went on to retire the next two batters he faced before
Baltimore's Adam Jones finally ended his bid for a perfect game
with a single up the middle. Still, it was the best outing of
his career, and came on a night when the Kansas City's scuffling
offense needed it.

Billy Butler drove in the only run in the first inning in the
1-0 win over the Orioles.

"I started to feel it in the seventh a little bit," Duffy said
of his tantalizing perfect bid, "but I didn't think about it
because my job is to get outs."

Others started to think about it, though.

"You keep thinking, `Boy, he's got really good stuff," said
Royals manager Ned Yost, who was ejected during a tense ninth
inning. "He gets through the fourth and the fifth and into the
sixth and you think, `Boy, he's got really, really good stuff."'

Duffy gave up a single to Nelson Cruz to start the eighth, but
Wade Davis retired the next three batters. All-Star close Greg
Holland allow a hit and two walks to load the bases with two
outs in the ninth, then calmly struck out Cruz for his 11th save
of the season.

"We found a way to get back in it in the ninth and had the right
guys at the plate," said Orioles bench coach John Russell, who
was acting manager as Buck Showalter attended his daughter's
graduation. "We scraped and scrapped. We still found a way to
make it interesting."

Bud Norris (2-4) was the hard-luck loser, allowing four hits and
a walk in 7 1-3 innings.

The lone run he allowed came in the first, when Nori Aoki led
off with a single, stole second and then scored on Butler's
single to center. The hit ended a 0-for-10 slump, and gave
Kansas City only its second run in the first three games of the
four-game set.

"The story of the day is about Duffy. That was unbelievable,"
Butler said. "That gives you a glimpse of what he could be like
every time out."

Duffy missed most of last season while recovering from Tommy
John surgery, and he began this season in the bullpen after
losing the competition for a rotation spot in spring training.
But he was forced back into the rotation a few weeks ago, when
Bruce Chen landed on the disabled list with a back injury, and
has pitched so well that he may have claimed the spot for good.

After struggling with control most of his first three seasons,
Duffy has finally started to harness his stuff. He allowed one
run on two hits in four innings in his first start May 3 against
Detroit, and one run on two hits in six innings last week in
Seattle.

He wound up losing both games when the Royals failed to score a
run for him.

Perhaps with that in mind, Duffy kept the Orioles off the
scoreboard entirely. He never got close to allowing a hit until
Caleb Joseph hit a liner at third baseman Mike Moustakas to end
the sixth inning, and Alex Gordon made a spectacular diving
catch on Nick Markakis's flyball to lead off the seventh. Duffy
then struck out Manny Machado before Jones delivered his single.

"I heard somebody say this is the type for, like, a perfect
game," said the Orioles' Caleb Joseph. "Right after that,
somebody said, `Jonesy is about to rip one right here."'

The crowd gave Duffy a standing ovation after the hit, and then
another when he exited the game. Duffy sheepishly waved his cap
in appreciation as he entered the dugout.

"I was just trying to stay calm," Duuffy said. "Mechanics will
come through on their own if you trust your stuff, you don't
overdo anything. And we were on the attack all day."

NOTES: Jones has a 12-game hitting streak. ... The Royals have
had four no-hitters in their history, the last by Brett
Saberhagen against the White Sox on Aug. 26, 1991. The Orioles
have not been no-hit since Sept. 1, 2007, when Clay Buchholz
accomplished the feat for Boston. ... Royals RHP James Shields
and Orioles RHP Ubaldo Jimenez start Sunday's series finale.

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