KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Koji Uehara is aware of it.
So are his teammates, his manager and his opponents.
The 34-year-old Japanese rookie has been outstanding early in his eight starts this season, but the book on the right-hander is simple: Wait him out, and he can be figured out.
That's what the Kansas City Royals did Sunday, bumbling through much of their 7-4 win over the Orioles before getting to Uehara for three runs in the sixth and the Orioles bullpen for three in the eighth.
The Royals (20-18) committed four errors, managed just two hits in their first five innings, pulled their starter in the fourth, blew a late lead and stranded 10 base runners.
And they still won, splitting the four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
"Total missed opportunity," Orioles catcher Gregg Zaun said. "We should have been able to close that one out and win that ballgame. We stopped working offensively ... and we allowed them to come back. And that can't happen and shouldn't happen.
"But it did."
The Orioles (16-22) are 0-5 in series finales on the road this season, 1-5 on Sundays and 2-10 in day games.
Those peculiar splits could even out as the year continues. The alarming aspect of Sunday's loss, however, is that Uehara again was dominating early and floundered as the game progressed.
He retired the first six batters in order before David DeJesus tripled to lead off the third. DeJesus scored on a groundout, which ignited another five-out streak by Uehara. Heading into the sixth, Uehara had allowed just two hits and two walks, and had thrown 83 pitches - a reasonable number for someone pitching on six days' rest.
But in the sixth, his third time around the Royals' lineup, he faltered, yielding four straight hits. The big one was Jose Guillen's two-run double that scorched the left-field line. It gave the Royals a 4-3 lead and chased Uehara.
Guillen, who had popped up in his first two at-bats, wasn't getting fooled again.
"These are the big leagues. When you go to the fifth inning, and already you've seen what the guy's throwing, you make an adjustment," Guillen said. "He had a good changeup, and the sixth inning is when everybody started realizing it. That at-bat, that's all I was sitting on, changeup, because that's what he was throwing me pretty much all day."
Uehara has allowed 14 runs in the sixth and seventh innings of his eight starts; he has given up 12 runs in the first five innings combined. Heading into Sunday, opponents were batting .211 against him in his first 25 pitches, but .278 from pitch 75 to 100.
A reliever for much of the previous two seasons in Japan, Uehara doesn't think he is tiring as games progress.
"I don't feel any different in terms of any physical strength," Uehara said through his interpreter.
Instead, he thinks he started rushing his delivery in the sixth Sunday and stopped finishing his pitches. He said he believes the opponents are making the proper adjustments. And now he needs to do the same to keep them off balance.
Manager Dave Trembley said Uehara pitched well enough for a win, but the club failed to take advantage of the Royals' mistakes, including a second consecutive poor outing from starter Luke Hochevar (three runs, two earned, in 3 2/3 innings). The Orioles had base runners on in all four of Hochevar's innings but capitalized only in a three-run third.
In the eighth, they put runners on first and third with no outs but scored just once to tie the game at 4-4. Kansas City came back with three in the bottom of the inning against Jim Johnson (2-2).
"I would just say we didn't do enough to win the game," Trembley said.
for Sunday's game PG 4
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
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