KANSAS CITY, Mo. —You just never know, do you? Here are the Royals, who had not scored more than four runs in any of their previous 14 games, matched Wednesday night against Fausto Carmona, who has somehow managed to win 11 games for struggling Cleveland.
So, sure, the Royals rake Carmona and the Indians' bullpen for their most-productive effort in more than seven weeks — 53 days to be exact — and it was barely enough in a 9-7 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
"We just like to make it interesting for our fans," manager Ned Yost deadpanned.
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The Royals scored nine runs and still needed Joakim Soria to close out the victory. That wasn't easy either. The Indians had the tying runs on base with one out in the ninth before Soria finished it off.
"We got a lot of hits," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "but hits don't win ballgames. Hits with runners in scoring position win ballgames. It's not how many hits you get, but how many hits you get with runners in scoring position.
"But that wasn't what cost us the ball game. We just didn't pitch well today."
The Royals stranded just three runners in a balanced 12-hit attack. Yuniesky Betancourt hit another homer, which makes a career-high 12 overall and four in nine games since becoming a father. He also drove in three runs.
"I'm going to have one (child) every season," joked Betancourt, who is 13 for 32 in the last nine games. "I don't know about the power, but I am seeing the ball very well right now.
"I'm reading the ball well (from the pitcher), and I've been able to connect."
Billy Butler and Mitch Maier had two RBIs. Gregor Blanco contributed two doubles. Alex Gordon and Jason Kendall also had two hits. You get the idea; something for everybody.
"It was nice to put some runs on the board," Yost said. "We haven't put nine runs on the board (in a while). All up and down the lineup, it was a good night offensively."
Even so, it was anything but an easy ride.
The Indians actually out-hit the Royals 17-12 but squandered too many opportunities, particularly against starter Bruce Chen, who allowed 11 hits but just four runs in his 5 2/3 innings.
"They got a bunch of hits," Chen said. "They were swinging the bats real well. Today, it seemed like both teams were swinging the bats real well. I'm just glad I was able to keep them under what we scored."
The Royals built leads of 1-0 after one inning, 3-1 after two, 5-1 after four, 7-2 after five and 9-4 after six. But Cleveland's three-run eighth against Kanekoa Texeira forced the Royals to use Blake Wood for a hold in the eighth and Soria in the ninth.
"You've got to give some credit to the Indians," Betancourt said. "They really hit today. They had 17 hits, but we took advantage of our opportunities. That's why we won."
Jayson Nix opened the ninth with a single against Soria before moving to second on Matt LaPorta's grounder to short. Pinch-hitter Travis Hafner drew a walk before Luis Valbuena replaced him as a pinch-runner.
Jason Donald's fly to deep right moved Nix to third before Soria ended the game by retiring pinch-hitter Trevor Crowe on a fly to left.
"You're just not going to be on every night," Yost said. "You're just not — as a starter, a position player or even a reliever. The thing about Jack is that on nights when Jack's not on, he still gets the job done. That's something very special."
Soria is perfect in his last 28 save opportunities and his 35 saves overall are tied for the American League lead with Tampa Bay's Rafael Soriano.
The victory pulled the Royals (51-69) into a two-game advantage over Cleveland in the battle to avoid last place in the AL Central. The Royals have an opportunity tonight for their first three-game sweep since July 5-7 at Seattle.
Chen (8-6) worked through one jam after another. Dusty Hughes completed the sixth before Texeira pitched out of a first-and-third jam with no outs in the seventh.
Texeira wasn't as fortunate in a three-run eighth inning. All three runs scored with two outs. Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI single before Shin-Soo Choo sliced a two-run double into left.
"I made one bad pitch to Cabrera," Texeira said. "The pitch to Choo was down and away. He just went down and slapped it down the line. It happens."
What doesn't happen, often anyway, is the sort of punishment the Royals doled out to Carmona: Seven runs in five innings. Carmona (11-11) gave up one run in the first, two more in the second, two in the fourth and two in the fifth.
"Tonight, I left the ball up and they got base hits," he said. "Every pitch was up. A couple sliders were up. There were a couple ground balls that nobody caught. Everything up."
The Royals scored two more runs in the sixth against relievers Hector Ambriz and Frank Hermann.
And then held on.