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Royals four losses away from tying American League record

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals are approaching a piece of
baseball history they don't want to own.

The Royals' losing streak reached 17 games Tuesday night when
they lost 4-3 to the Seattle Mariners on Yuniesky Betancourt's
go-ahead infield single in the eighth inning.

Kansas City is four defeats from tying the AL record of 21 in a
row set by Baltimore at the start of the 1988 season, and the
Royals' club-record skid is the longest in the major leagues since
that Orioles slump.

The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies dropped 23 straight from July 29
to Aug. 20, according to the Elias Sports Bureau -- the longest
losing streak in the big leagues since 1900.

"I think it's gotten past the point of frustration for us,"
Matt Stairs said. "When we make a mistake, it seems to beat us.
Tonight it was an infield hit. I thought it was a good ballgame and
I thought we played well, but we lost."

With the score tied at 3, Jeremy Affeldt (0-2) gave up a two-out
single to Jeremy Reed in the eighth and walked Mike Morse. Reed
stole third on the first pitch to Betancourt, then scored when the
rookie hit a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop.

Angel Berroa fielded the ball and threw to second base, but
Morse beat the play.

"I guess we have four more games to keep that from happening,"
Affeldt said when asked about the Orioles' AL record.

Affeldt blamed himself for not holding Reed close.

"With two outs, I probably should have looked him back a couple
of times, but I didn't," the pitcher said. "All these losses are
tough. But this is how it's going for us."

Bench coach Bob Schaefer, who filled in for manager Buddy Bell
for the second straight night, agreed with Affeldt that Reed's
stolen base was a key play in the Royals' 80th loss this season.

"Affeldt didn't pay him that much attention," Schaefer said.
"But I give them credit. With two outs, it's a gamble."

It was a gamble that Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was willing
to take.

"A lot of people pooh-pooh the idea of stealing third with two
outs," he said. "But it's got a lot of advantage to it. A lot of
things can happen and one of them did."

Reed had two stolen bases in the game, his fifth and sixth of
the season. He's been thrown out eight times.

"I've been getting thrown out every time," he said. "There
have been some close calls and bang-bang plays. Maybe I was trying
to be too fine."

Joel Pineiro (5-7) won his second straight decision, pitching
eight innings and giving up three runs and six hits. Eddie Guardado
worked the ninth for his 29th save in 31 opportunities.

Kansas City finished with six hits, two by Matt Stairs.

The Royals' skid started on July 28 with a 10-5 loss at Tampa
Bay. Four of the defeats have been by one run, including two losses
in a doubleheader Sunday at Detroit.

Bell had been expected back from Arlington National Cemetery,
where he attended services Monday for his nephew, a Marine killed
in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Tim Bell Jr. was killed by a roadside bomb this
month.

The teams play a day game Wednesday, with D.J. Carrasco pitching
for the Royals. Kansas City then goes to Oakland for a three-game
series that begins Friday night.

Schaefer said Bell would definitely be at Wednesday's game.

"He just got hung up tonight," Schaefer said.

The Royals grabbed a 3-2 lead in the second on David DeJesus'
sacrifice fly. The Mariners tied the score on Adrian Beltre's
sacrifice fly in the third.

In the first, the Royals went ahead 2-0 on an RBI single by
Stairs and a sacrifice fly by Emil Brown. The Mariners came back to
tie it in the bottom half on RBI singles by Raul Ibanez and Beltre.

Zack Greinke pitched the first six innings for Kansas City,
allowing three runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts.

Greinke said things are going so badly for the Royals that he
momentarily quit talking to his girlfriend on Sunday night.

"I told her I just didn't feel like talking," he said.
"That's how bad things are going. This is getting old."

Greinke said he has resumed talking to his girlfriend, but the
Royals haven't resumed winning yet.

Game notes
Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners improved his hitting streak
to 10 games with a first-inning single. Suzuki had two singles for
his 46th multihit game, second-most in the AL. He also stole his
27th base. ... The 21-year-old Greinke made his career-high 25th
start. He has lost twice during the streak. At 3-14, he leads the
AL in losses.