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Surhoff has three hits, drives in two runs

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Sidney Ponson is faring far better than last
season. Then again, it would have been extremely difficult for him
to do any worse.

Ponson pitched eight innings of five-hit ball for his third
straight win, and B.J. Surhoff had three hits and two RBI to lead
the Baltimore Orioles past the Kansas City Royals 3-1 Friday night.

Ponson (4-1) had a season-high eight strikeouts and two walks.
He is 3-0 in his last four starts and already has more wins than he
did at the All-Star break last season, when he was 3-12.

"I'm hitting the corners this year. Last year I wasn't," he
said. "Did you expect me to go 3-12 this year? I guess so, huh?
Last year I didn't start good. Seems like you guys expect me to do
the same thing over and over again, but it's not going to happen."

Ponson gave up three straight hits opening the fourth inning and
fell behind 1-0, but he avoided further damage by getting a double
play and a strikeout.

"Last year, he just always seemed to get that one pitch that
got him in trouble. This year, he's the opposite," Orioles manager
Lee Mazzilli. "Every time he gets in a jam, it seems he makes the
right pitch to get out of it."

B.J. Ryan struck out two in a perfect ninth for his sixth save
in six chances.

Ponson started the season as the fourth pitcher in the rotation,
but he now leads first-place Baltimore in wins. The Orioles have
won 10 of 12 and has given up only three runs in their last three
games.

With his first three-hit game of the season, Surhoff lifted his
batting average from .206 to .263. His two-run single in the fourth
inning gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead, and Ponson made the margin
stand up by allowing only one runner over his final four innings.

"He was really aggressive out there, and late in the ball game
was even more aggressive," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "He did
not lose any velocity in his fastball."

Ken Harvey drove in the lone run for the Royals, who have lost
13 of 15. Kansas City is 7-22, its worst record after 29 games,
mainly because of an offense that is batting .233.

"We played great defense and our pitchers did a good job,"
Pena said. "We're going to hit. We need to find a way to score
some runs."

Sammy Sosa was a late scratch from Baltimore's starting lineup
with an abscess on the bottom of his left foot, and Melvin Mora
left after a cramp developed in his right leg while he ran out a
first-inning bunt. Sosa and Mora were two of four Orioles to have
started every game this season, along with Brian Roberts and Miguel
Tejada.

Sosa had the abscess drained, and Mora was walking comfortably
after the game. Mazzilli expected both to play on Saturday.

The Orioles trailed 1-0 before batting around in the fourth
against Denny Bautista, who was traded from Baltimore last season
for Jason Grimsley. Chris Gomez, who replaced Mora in the second
inning, singled and Rafael Palmeiro walked before Javy Lopez hit an
RBI double.

Surhoff followed by grounding a single under the glove of Harvey
at first base. After Bautista loaded the bases with a two-out walk
to Roberts, Kyle Snyder retired David Newhan on a grounder.

Bautista (2-2) entered with a 1.29 ERA on the road, but in his
first outing against his former team allowed three runs, six hits
and two walks in 3 2-3 innings.

"I was not with them for that long," Bautista said. "I asked
(Pena) why he took me out; he said I threw too many pitches in one
inning."

Kansas City went up 1-0 in the fourth inning on successive
singles by Mike Sweeney, Matt Stairs and Harvey. Stairs ended a
2-for-18 skid, and Harvey snapped a 2-for-17 drought.

The Royals got only one more hit, a bunt single by Ruben Gotay
in the sixth.

"We're struggling," catcher John Buck said. "We need a win,
period."

Game notes
SS Tejada made sensational throw from deep in the hole to
retire John Buck on a third-inning grounder. ... Ten of the Royals'
last 13 losses have been by two runs or fewer. ... Ponson's nine
wins against Kansas City are his most against any club.