Kansas City's pitchers have sparked the team's return to the .500 mark.
Right at the head of that effort has been Ervin Santana , who will look to lead the Royals to a winning record for the first time in exactly a month with a victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
"It's important to get to .500, but now it's more important to move past that," manager Ned Yost said.
Kansas City (34-34) has won 11 of 13 behind a pitching staff that has posted a 1.69 ERA during its run while holding opposing hitters to a .217 average."We've been playing good baseball and we're enjoying it," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "We're more confident now than we were when we started 17-10."
It was more of the same Monday, as the Royals held the Indians (34-35) to six hits. James Shields overcame four walks to allow one run in six innings, and the bullpen took care of the rest in Kansas City's 2-1 victory. Royals' relievers have allowed two runs over their last 37 innings.
Santana (5-5, 2.74 ERA) will look to win his third straight start. He hasn't walked a batter over his past two games and has the fourth-best strikeouts-to-walks ratio in the majors.
He failed to pick up a win for over a month as Kansas City tallied just nine runs over six of his starts - all losses for the team - but in his last two outings, the Royals have scored 17 to help Santana even his record. The right-hander surrendered five hits and an unearned run over 7 2-3 innings of a 10-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Before winning his last two starts, Santana's last win came against Cleveland on April 27, when he tossed seven scoreless innings with no walks and five strikeouts in a 3-2 victory. He's allowed one run over 14 innings to win his past two against the Indians.
Cleveland's once-prolific offense has struggled of late. After finishing third in the majors with 146 runs in May, the Indians are tied for 20th with 53 runs in June. Cleveland has yet to surpass six runs this month after doing so 10 times in May. Even second baseman Jason Kipnis saw his 10-game hitting streak, during which he batted .432, snapped in Monday's loss.
Hoping to provide a spark, the Indians on Tuesday recalled Lonnie Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus. Chisenhall began the season as Cleveland's starting third baseman, but he struggled and was optioned to the minor leagues on May 13 after batting just .213 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 26 games.
He batted .390 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 27 games at Columbus after being sent down. Chisenhall will bat seventh Tuesday.
The Indians' offensive struggles are rough news for Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.79), who has received just 17 runs of support over his last six starts.
Jimenez went 12 starts without a win before allowing three hits over seven innings in a 9-0 victory at Kansas City on April 29."It felt really good," Jimenez said. "When I saw the run on my fastball, I said, `We have to take advantage of that.'"
Jimenez will want to be careful with Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer , who has tagged him for five hits, including two home runs, in 11 at-bats.
Cleveland will again be without first baseman Nick Swisher , who is dealing with a sore shoulder and is not expected back until Friday at the earliest.
|Kansas City Royals|
|May 16, 2013||Jarrod Dyson||15-Day DL||Right ankle sprain|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|June 04, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||15-Day DL||Right quadriceps strain|
|June 03, 2013||Zach McAllister||15-Day DL||Sprained right middle finger|
|June 03, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right quad|
|May 30, 2013||Ryan Raburn||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower right leg cramp|
|May 27, 2013||Chris Perez||15-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|May 26, 2013||Chris Perez||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right shoulder discomfort|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Once Vinnie Pestano stopped at third base, he had plenty of company.
Standing within a few feet were two Royals baserunners, two umpires, a Kansas City coach and several teammates screaming at him.
He had no idea being a temporary closer would be this difficult.
Pestano wiggled out of a jam in the ninth inning when Kansas City's David Lough ran past his third-base coach and failed to score the tying run, giving the Indians a 4-3 win over the Royals on Tuesday night.
"I had every intention of going out there and making it a 1-2-3 inning," Pestano said. "But it didn't happen that way. But at the end of the day no runs were scored and we got the `W."'
Michael Brantley 's sacrifice fly capped Cleveland's three-run eighth inning and the Indians held on through a wild ninth to stun the Royals.
Held to one run and three hits over seven innings by Ervin Santana , the Indians finally strung something together in the eighth off Kelvin Herrera (3-5) and Tim Collins . Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis delivered RBI hits before Brantley drove in Mike Aviles with the go-ahead run.
Cody Allen (2-0), whose throwing error in the eighth helped the Royals take a 3-1 lead, got the win. Pestano, who is filling as Cleveland's closer while Chris Perez is on the disabled list, gave up three singles and a walk in the ninth but held on for his second save.
"Never a doubt," he joked.
The Royals lost for just the third time in 14 games and missed a chance to move over .500 for the first time since May 18.
They probably should have tied it in the ninth when Alcides Escobar singled to right with one out and runners at first and second. But Lough ran past third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez's stop sign, and got caught in a rundown between home and third.
Lough got back to the bag safely, but Mike Moustakas was also there and was tagged out. It appeared Lough would have scored easily as right fielder Drew Stubbs ' throw was off target.
"I take full responsibility," said Lough, who is from nearby Akron and had several family members and friend at the game. "It's 100 percent my fault."
Lough nearly made another mistake as he briefly took his hand off the bag and almost got doubled off by Pestano, who got involved in the rundown and tagged Moustakas out. Pestano said the Indians don't necessarily work on situations where two runners are on the same base.
"Luckily, I had about seven guys shouting at me about what to do so I just chose the thing that I heard twice," he said with a laugh.
What was he hearing?
"Run it back, run it back,"' he said. "`Don't throw it, don't throw it. Tag him, tag him, it's his base.' I had to process a lot of information."
Indians manager Terry Francona said he has one basis rule in those situations.
"Tag everybody in sight," he said. "Umpire, everybody and hope somebody gets off the bag. It's confusing. That's why you tag everybody. They (umpires) can figure it out."
Pestano settled down after the crazy play and got Eric Hosmer on a groundout with the bases loaded as the Indians got their 10th come-from-behind win.
The Indians did next to nothing against Santana, but they pounced on Kansas City's bullpen in the eighth.
Ryan Raburn drew a leadoff walk from Herrera, moved up on a groundout and scored when Bourn slapped a single inside the left-field line.
Aviles followed with a single and Kipnis, who stranded seven runners in a 2-1 loss on Monday night, delivered an RBI double off Collins to tie it. The Royals walked Carlos Santana intentionally to load the bases and Brantley hit a fly ball to right, easily scoring Aviles.
Before the comeback, the Indians were in danger of falling another game behind Kansas City in the AL Central.
"I won't say we needed it, but we wanted it," Bourn said. "They took second place over us yesterday and we came back today. Not only that, we want to win those close games like that. Those close games matter."
Santana deserved a better outcome. The right-hander made it look easy against an Indians lineup that was in a deep offensive funk.
Santana, who pitched the only no-hitter in Progressive Field history in 2011 for the Angels, didn't allow a runner to reach second base until the sixth and had Cleveland's hitters guessing most of the night.
"He was spectacular," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Ubaldo Jimenez 's wildness helped the Royals take a 2-0 lead in the third without benefit of a hit.
He walked No. 9 hitter Escobar and Alex Gordon to start the inning and then uncorked a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Hosmer followed with an RBI groundout, and with Salvador Perez batting, Jimenez bounced another pitch in the dirt that got away from Santana, scoring Gordon.
The Indians came in leading the AL with 38 wild pitches, 29 of them with Santana behind the plate.
Before the game, manager Terry Francona defended Santana's ability to block pitches. On Monday night, the Royals scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on a wild pitch from Bryan Shaw that Santana let go through his legs.
Unable to get anything going for the first five innings against Santana, the Indians closed to 2-1 in the sixth on Aviles' two-out RBI single.
But the Indians gave back an unearned run in the eighth.
Hosmer led off with a comebacker to Allen, who fielded the ball cleanly but fired it past first baseman Mark Reynolds . The ball rolled down the track along the first-base line, and Hosmer hustled into third with a headfirst dive. Perez followed with an RBI single to make it 3-1.
NOTES: Perez gave up three home runs and a double, and hit a batter during a rough 23-pitch rehab performance for Double-A Akron. Perez, recently arrested on misdemeanor drug charges, had expected to be activated from the disabled list on Friday. ... Royals RHP Felipe Paulino , attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, has been pulled back from a minor league rehab assignment because of back stiffness. Manager Ned Yost doesn't think the back issue is serious. ... Cleveland Browns rookies, including first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, attended batting practice and several met with Francona, Santana and Bourn as the Indians took their pregame cuts.