Royals struggle to capitalize early on Indians' starter Justin Masterson, fall short in Cleveland
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Kansas City
CLEVELAND (AP) The
Royals ended their road trip with a small skid.
They don't want to let it grow any longer.
Luis Mendoza didn't allow a hit for four innings, but was knocked out of the game during a three-run sixth as the Royals lost 6-3 on Wednesday night to the
Cleveland Indians, who snapped
Kansas City's series-winning streak at four.
After winning the opener, the Royals dropped two straight and finished 4-3 on their swing through Tampa Bay and Cleveland. It was just their fourth loss in 15 games. Kansas City had won its previous series against the Rays, Detroit, Houston and Minnesota.
"It's tough," said left fielder Alex Gordon, who misplayed a catchable ball into an RBI single in the sixth. "It was a good road trip. We would have loved to turn these last two games around. We could have. We had our opportunities and just didn't do it."
The Royals had early scoring chances against Justin Masterson (9-5) but couldn't come up with the big hit to support Mendoza (2-4), who carried a no-hitter into the fifth.
"The first five innings were about as good as you can get," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He just kind of fell apart in the sixth."
Michael Brantley hit a pair of solo homers and had three RBIs for the up-and-down Indians, who moved within 3 1/2 games of first-place Detroit in the AL Central. Mike Aviles drove in two runs and Michaael Bourn scored twice for Cleveland, which was helped by a Kansas City baserunning mistake in Tuesday's win.
The Royals, who have regrouped after losing 15 of 18, are off Thursday before opening a six-game homestand on Friday against the Chicago White Sox.
"We have a good homestand coming up," Gordon said. "We're going to enjoy the day and clear our heads. We can't let these two games affect us moving forward."
The game ended on a sour note for Kansas City as Eric Hosmer was thrown out at third after he inexplicably tried to advance on a groundout with his team down three runs.
"Sometimes these guys they're trying too hard to make something happen," Yost said.
Unable to get a hit for four innings off Mendoza, Brantley homered in the fifth and the Indians added three runs in the sixth.
Masterson, as close to an ace as the Indians have in their rotation, is 5-0 in his last six starts at home and has won nine of his past 13 decisions in Cleveland.
It wasn't a certainty he would survive the first few innings as the Royals put two runners on in the first and second but failed to score. Kansas City stranded eight runners in the first five innings and Masterson got a big defensive play by first baseman Mark Reynolds, who snagged Gordon's liner to end the fourth and save two runs.
"It's baseball," Gordon said. "Sometimes you're going to hit bloopers and get a hit and sometimes you're going to line out but you have to keep your head up and keep going."
The Indians, who have struggled to score lately, didn't get their first hit off Mendoza until the fifth and then chased the right-hander.
With two on and none out in the sixth, Aviles hit a ball to deep left that probably should have been caught by Gordon, but the two-time Gold Glove winner dropped it, allowing Drew Stubbs to score and tie it at 2. Gordon seemed to track the ball without any difficulty but couldn't haul it in.
"It's a ball that needs to be caught, especially in that situation," Gordon said. "It was toward the wall but it was off my glove and I should have caught it. No question. It would have been a big out and could have changed the inning around. Instead they put up three. I needed to make a play right there and didn't do it."
Jason Kipnis followed with a well-timed bunt single to load the bases and Mendoza threw four straight balls to Carlos Santana, forcing in Bourn with the go-ahead run.
Tim Collins then came in and allowed Brantley's sacrifice fly that made it 4-2, but after giving up a single, he kept the Royals within two by striking out pinch hitter Ryan Raburn and getting Lonnie Chisenhall on a groundout.
However, the Indians tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when Bourn doubled, stole third and scored on Aviles' fly ball to right.
Mendoza, who had just one win in his previous six starts, coasted through the first four innings, allowing only a two-out walk in the first. He was handling the Indians with ease and appeared in complete control.
The right-hander didn't make a mistake until Brantley turned on his fastball leading off the fifth, lining a shot into the right-field seats to trim Kansas City's lead to 2-1.
NOTES: The Royals are in a stretch of playing 13 of 15 games within the AL Central. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas had two more hits and has now had consecutive multiple-hit games for the first time since Sept. 1-2 last season. ... CF Lorenzo Cain struck out four times and is in a 4-for-23 slump. ... C Salvador Perez was hitless in four at-bats and is 1 for 18 since ending an 11-game hitting streak. ... Kansas City allowed five earned runs for the first time since May 31, snapping a string of 17 straight games.