Lopez homer sets winning tone against O’s

BALTIMORE — Nicky Lopez is known for helping to drive in runs on sacrifice hits. But as the Royals surged to a 6-0 win over the Orioles on Thursday night at Camden Yards, Lopez drove in runs in a different manner.

With one out in the first inning, Lopez tagged the second pitch of his first at-bat and blasted the ball a Statcast-projected 383 feet to right field for his second home run of the year.

Entering the series finale, Lopez was batting .386 with 20 RBIs with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break on July 13. His power in the two-hole has been key for the Royals’ offense, especially with the speedy Whit Merrifield ahead of him in the lineup.

Lopez’s solo blast was the only run Kansas City had scratched across the plate until an insurance eighth inning. The Royals did what manager Mike Matheny has been preaching — playing smart, small ball. By stringing together hits from the top half of the lineup — ignited by a leadoff double from Hunter Dozier in the nine-hole — Kansas City put three runs across in the eighth on five hits.

Lopez added an RBI single to plate Dozier in the eighth, going 3-for-5 for the game. Dozier went yard in the ninth, plating two more insurance runs to ensure a split of the four-game set.