PHOENIX -- Micah Owings was one batter away from escaping the fifth inning unscathed in Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Royals. If Owings retired Royals pitcher Gil Meche, who was making just his second at-bat of the season with two outs and the bases loaded in the frame, the Royals' lead would have stayed at one run. Meche hit a hard, bouncing ball in the direction of Owings. The pitcher lunged for the ball but could only deflect it toward second baseman Orlando Hudson.
A run would score on the play as Meche beat out a throw down to first, but the bigger damage came two pitches later, when Royals leadoff man David DeJesus stroked a 409-foot grand slam into the swimming pool over the right-center-field wall, making the score 6-0, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Diamondbacks. "The Meche ball, if he gets that one, we're looking at potentially a different outcome," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said, adding that it was tough to tell whether it was a playable ball. "I think it was probably his athleticism that got a glove on it. I think the ball was hit hard enough where it was probably going to center field. I don't think [Hudson] has a play on that one." Owings (6-5) said he went back and looked at the replay of the play at the mound and said he thought he still could have made the play. "It tipped right off the very top [of my glove]," Owings said. "It was just slow enough for [Hudson] not to get there." Meche added: "It was a high one-hopper and he just barely tipped it and I saw it was going to be a tough play, so I took off. If I don't get on base, that [the grand slam] doesn't happen so it's a different game." For the second consecutive outing, a D-backs starter allowed seven earned runs to the Royals, after left-hander Doug Davis opened the series throwing seven scoreless innings. For Owings, it was his fourth consecutive poor outing. He's allowed 21 earned runs in his last 19 innings for an ERA of 9.94, raising his season ERA to 5.18. "For the most part, I'm kind of scratching my head," Owings said. "My stuff felt better today than it has in a while. My pitches could have been better. I take full responsibility today for the loss. It's one of those things. I'm going to keep working. "If I make a couple different pitches, it's a different story." It didn't help the D-backs that Meche (4-8) brought a full repertoire of pitches en route to a season-high 10 strikeouts. Meche allowed three runs and only four hits in 7 1/3 innings. D-backs center fielder Chris Young, who went 0-for-3 off Meche, was impressed by the Royals starter, claiming he's better than his 4-8 record would indicate. "He was good today," Young said. "I had never faced him before, so I don't know what he's done in the past or anything like that, but he had his pitches working today. He had the cutter working. He was hitting his spots and he controlled the game. You have to tip your cap to him." In the five-run fifth inning, the Royals batted around. DeJesus matched his career high with five RBIs. The grand slam was the first of his career. The Royals scored 20 runs in the final two games of the series and had 31 hits. The D-backs' bats quieted down as they had only five hits, two by Conor Jackson, who started at first base after two starts in left field. Leo Rosales, who was recalled from Triple-A Tucson for a fresh arm in the bullpen, made his Major League debut and allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings. Perhaps a silver lining of the weekend was that the second-place Dodgers were swept by the Tigers and have now lost five in a row. The D-backs remained 5 1/2 games in front. "The last two games all around, we weren't very good," Melvin said. "Our pitching wasn't very good and we didn't swing the bats well. That's usually not a good recipe to win."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.