KANSAS CITY - In the end, each game was close, but the series was not. Winning a fourth straight game by two runs or fewer, the Kansas City Royals beat the Orioles 2-1 this afternoon to complete a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series. The O's season ends as they were held to two runs on seven hits in the last two games. This is the first time the Orioles were ever swept in a postseason series. A costly error in the first inning gave K.C. an early lead and its sensational bullpen made it stand up late again. The Royals won the four games in this series by six total runs. Kansas City took a 2-0 lead without hitting a ball out of the infield in the last of the first. Alcides Escobar led off with an infield single and Nori Aoki was hit by a pitch. Lorenzo Cain came up batting .667 in the series, but was asked to drop a sac bunt and he advanced both runners. Then Eric Hosmer hit a grounder to first and Steve Pearce threw home. The throw was there in time to get an out, but Caleb Joseph could not hang onto the ball as Escobar was sliding into his mitt and the ball got knocked loose as two runs scored. Joseph was charged with an error and one of the runs was unearned. The O's got one back on Ryan Flaherty's homer deep down the right field line in the third inning. It made Flaherty 4-for-10 in this series and cut the Royals' lead to 2-1. The homer was estimated to have traveled 411 feet. But like with Jeremy Guthrie last night, the O's did little else with Jason Vargas, who went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and the one run. He threw 73 pitches. The Orioles missed a chance in the sixth. The Birds had Jonathan Schoop on first with one down after a walk and Ned Yost called for fire-balling right-hander Kelvin Herrera. He gave up a two-out single to Adam Jones and faced Nelson Cruz with two men on. Cruz lined a hot smash on a 1-0 pitch, but did so right at second baseman Omar Infante to end the threat. Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to keep the O's off the scoreboard over the last three innings. In this series, that trio allowed just one run over 14 innings. Miguel Gonzalez pitched a strong game for the Orioles. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) with four walks, four strikeouts and two hit batters. In two career postseason starts, Gonzalez has allowed two earned runs over 12 2/3 innings. Kansas City outscored the Orioles 18-12 in this series, winning the games by two, two, one and one. They posted back-to-back 2-1 wins to close it out and now advance to the World Series for the first time since 1985. The Orioles' season comes to an end after 96 regular season wins, an AL East Championship, an AL Division Series sweep of Detroit and their 10th appearance in the LCS. Now the offseason begins and the O's will next get together again as a team to start the 2015 season in February in Sarasota, Fla.
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