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TB@KC: Jennings puts Rays on the board with solo shot

KANSAS CITY -- Wednesday afternoon's knockout punch wasn't what it appeared to be, according to Jake Odorizzi.

Alex Gordon's three-run homer in the fifth off the Rays right-hander put away Tampa Bay in a 7-3 Royals win at Kauffman Stadium, but Odorizzi did not feel as though he made a bad pitch.

"That was the first [ball] that got up in the air," Odorizzi said. "It got up high enough and kept going, and just barely made it out. The home run, it looks bad, but I know I made my pitch. It's a fly ball in any other park than what we're in today.

"...The [pitch] was a split, he went down and got it and put it up in the air. And you can see what happens when you get one up in the breeze today. It just kept blowing and barely got out. So I'm not too worried about it. It's just something that happened. And we'll move past it and focus on Baltimore."

In between Kansas City and Baltimore, the Rays will travel to Cincinnati to play three over the weekend before Odorizzi gets to take the mound next week against the Orioles.

The Rays will carry a 1-2 mark on the current road trip to the Queen City after losing the series to the Royals and falling to 5-5 on the season.

Wednesday's afternoon affair appeared to be trending in the Rays' direction when Desmond Jennings broke up a scoreless tie with a 407-foot home run to center field off Jeremy Guthrie to lead off the fourth, putting the Rays up 1-0.

Odorizzi appeared to have some wind in his sails when he toed the rubber to start the bottom half of the fourth, having logged nine scoreless innings on the season. But that's when the Royals got busy.

Johnny Giavotella and Eric Hosmer each singled to start the inning. Billy Butler's groundout drove home Giavotella from third and Gordon added an RBI single to put the Royals up, 2-1.

Lorenzo Cain singled to open the Royals' fifth and scored one out later when Nori Aoki tripled to right. Giavotella's sacrifice fly scored Aoki to push the lead to 4-1.

Though the Rays trailed by three, Joe Maddon wasn't concerned about Odorizzi. That belief came through in fact that nary a Rays reliever could be seen warming in the bullpen.

"I thought he was fine," Maddon said. "Ground ball up the middle. ... Aoki's was the only ball that was hit properly. I thought he was still throwing well and was not in trouble."

Hosmer and Butler followed with singles before Gordon connected on an 0-1 pitch for a 396-foot, three-run homer off Odorizzi. Not only did Gordon's blast give the Royals a 7-1 lead, it gave the team its first home run of the season.

Initially, Gordon thought it was a home run off the bat before doubt settled in.

"I kind of did a nice little pose," Gordon said. "But then when I saw Wil [Myers] kind of drifting back on it, I thought there might be a chance it'd stay in. And with this park, you just never know -- it's so big. I keep waiting for the owners to move the fences in, but they keep moving 'em back so there's no cheap home runs here."

Odorizzi allowed a career-high seven runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out four in five innings to take his first loss of the season.

"He really didn't pitch as bad as the scoreboard showed," Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "A lot of weak hits off the barrel, finding holes, guys breaking their swing down, so I wasn't too upset. A couple of 0-1 pitches, we got hurt on. And on an 0-1 count, you know I feel we need to do better."

Meanwhile, Jennings' home run served the only blemish to Guthrie's line. The veteran right-hander allowed just four hits and a walk, striking out four in moving to 2-0 on the season.

Guthrie "kept the ball down," Hanigan said. "He was low in the zone. Changed speeds. Used all of his pitches. We just didn't put too many good swings on the ball."

The Rays have lost eight of their last night games at Kauffman Stadium, and they have not won consecutive games at the Royals' park since Oct. 2-3, 2010.

"They got us," Maddon said. "They've played really well against us here the last couple of years and you've got to give them credit." Comments