Lopez sparks Royals with career-high 4 RBIs

KANSAS CITY — Perhaps a break was just what the Royals needed.

Refreshed out of the All-Star break, they began the second half of the season with a 9-2 win over the Orioles on Friday night, riding an early offensive rout and shutdown innings by the bullpen to take the opener of a three-game weekend set at Kauffman Stadium.

Led by Nicky Lopez’s career-high four RBIs and Whit Merrifield’s ninth career four-hit night, the Royals’ offense erupted for nine runs and 15 hits.

Kansas City batted around in the second inning, starting with Jorge Soler’s leadoff walk and ending with his flyout to the warning track that nearly was a grand slam — it was a moonshot, went a projected 377 feet and would have been a home run in 13 ballparks.

So the Royals settled for a four-run inning and didn’t relinquish that lead. Fresh off their All-Star Game appearances, Merrifield and Salvador Perez both knocked two hits in the first two innings. Hanser Alberto doubled twice against his former team. Lopez continued his production into the second half with a two-run single in the second and a two-run double in the seventh.