KANSAS CITY — Dean Kremer punched the dugout railing. He muttered. He gnawed on his hat.

The righty was helpless, watching as the game slipped away. Keegan Akin, brought in to close out the sixth inning, imploded, facing five batters and retiring one of them. An inning later, Dillon Tate allowed three more runs, and a night that began with Kremer masterfully weaving through the Royals lineup ended in a blowout defeat.

Kremer was charged with three runs over 5 2/3 innings, but it was a leaky bullpen that doomed the Orioles in a 9-4 loss in Kansas City on Friday.

The righty was pulled after 91 pitches, giving way to a bullpen that came into the game 10th in baseball in runs allowed per game. Akin, who sported a 2.08 ERA entering the night, allowed both of the runners he inherited from Kremer to score, then gave up three more runs for good measure. Tate let three more score in the seventh, and the O’s found themselves in a five-run hole.

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“I thought Dean threw the ball great,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “A couple walks there in the sixth that hurt against the top of the order but left with two outs and a 1-0 game. We gotta do a better job of kinda shutting the door for him.”

“It doesn’t matter the situation, I want to stay in. I don’t like being pulled in general,” Kremer said. “But [Hyde was] playing the matchup there. I got faith in Keegan. I got faith in the rest of the bullpen to get it done more often than not, and we just came away on the wrong side tonight.”

Six days after giving up six earned runs in a loss to the Brewers, Kremer rebounded nicely, retiring the first 11 batters he faced. A solo homer from Vinnie Pasquantino put the Royals on the board 1-0, but Kremer put up a scoreless frame in the fifth. He allowed two runners to reach base in the sixth but, after coaxing a flyout from Salvador Perez, looked poised to get out of the jam.

That’s when Hyde signaled to the bullpen. In came Akin; out went the Orioles’ chances at a win.

Left fielder MJ Melendez singled on a ground ball through the right side, scoring shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. After Akin walked Nelson Velázquez on seven pitches, he served up a single to Michael Massey and a double to Hunter Renfroe. Kyle Isbel flied out, mercifully ending the frame, but the Royals were up 6-0.

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Failure to put away hitters was a theme all night for Orioles pitchers. All of Kansas City’s runs came with two outs.

“A couple ground balls that went through, then it’s a 4-0 game at that point,” Hyde said of the Royals’ five-run sixth. “It’s kind of a little bit unfortunate there, just two ground balls that got in the 4-hole there, all with two outs. Then Tate gives up the homer to Melendez there with two outs. Just had a tough time getting that third out there both innings.”

Baltimore’s bats did little to back Kremer. The only runs of the night came on one swing: a two-out grand slam by Adley Rutschman in the seventh inning, cutting the Royals’ lead to 6-4. It was the first grand slam of the catcher’s career.

“I think our team doesn’t feel like we’re out of any game at any given point,” Rutschman said. “I think that’s what makes this such a special group is we got a lot of guys who are committed to our process and who are relentless.”

But Rutschman’s long ball came three innings after the O’s had squandered a prime opportunity. With one down in the fourth and the bases loaded, Cedric Mullins swung at the first pitch, popping out to short left field. And, after taking a ball low, Colton Cowser grounded out to first base, squashing Baltimore’s best scoring chance of the night to that point.

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Mike Baumann provided the only scoreless inning of the night for an Orioles reliever, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth. But it was too late, and the O’s went quietly in the ninth.

Both teams send their aces to the mound Saturday as Corbin Burnes takes the ball for the Orioles and Cole Ragans goes for the Royals.

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