It wasn’t quite as dramatic as the previous day, but the result Wednesday was pretty much the same. Only this time it was Cleveland that staged the late rally before holding on for a 6-5 victory over the Royals.
Mark DeRosa delivered the tie-breaking run with a two-out RBI double in the eighth inning against reliever Sidney Ponson.
And, still, the Royals almost pulled it out for the second straight night against Indians closer Kerry Wood in the ninth inning. They loaded the bases with one out before seeing another comeback victory slip away.
“We made it interesting in the ninth,” designated hitter Mike Jacobs admitted, “but losses like this sting a little bit _ especially against teams in your own division. We’ve got to find a way to win these games.”
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The Indians’ victory snapped a four-game skid and came one night after the Royals scored four runs in the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory in the series opener.
The Royals couldn’t ride that momentum despite building leads of 3-0 and 4-2 behind Gil Meche through six innings. The bullpen, and some soft defense, let the game slip away.
“We had three today,” manager Trey Hillman said, “three key defensive miscues. We didn’t turn a double play; we missed a cutoff man and allowed a guy to walk to second base; and we ran the rundown ineffectively.”
All hurt. With clean defense, the Royals don’t need a ninth-inning comeback, although their near-miss had the crowd of 19,652 roaring until the final pitch.
Alberto Callaspo led off with a walk. After Willie Bloomquist entered the game as a pinch-runner, Billy Butler flied out to right on a 2-0 pitch. Bloomquist then stole second before a walk to Jacobs put the winning run on base.
Mitch Maier replaced Jacobs as a pinch-runner before a walk to José Guillen loaded the bases with one out. But Wood steadied by striking out Mark Teahen and David DeJesus.
Wood nearly hit DeJesus with a 1-2 pitch _ DeJesus had to jump out of the way _ before getting a swinging third strike on the next pitch.
“You have to keep the faith, man,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “You have to think good thoughts. You have to expect good things to happen.”
The near-miss in the ninth doesn’t change this: The Royals let this one slip away.
Jamey Wright coughed up two runs in the seventh after inheriting a 4-2 lead from Meche, although Ponson would have preserved a one-run lead had the Royals handled the ball cleanly on a potential inning-ending double play.
Cleveland scored two more runs in the eighth after a botched rundown play allowed the tying run to reach second with two outs. DeRosa then delivered a slicing double into the right-field corner.
A runner might have scored from first, but pinch-runner Matt LaPorta had no trouble in scoring from second. Robinson Tejeda replaced Ponson and surrendered an RBI single to Ben Francisco before ending the inning.
That second run proved decisive when the Royals answered with one run in the eighth on DeJesus’ one-out RBI single against Aaron Laffey.
Rafael Betancourt replaced Laffey and walked John Buck, but he stranded the tying and go-ahead runs by striking out Mike Aviles and Coco Crisp.
Wood then salvaged some redemption for his ninth-inning collapse Tuesday by getting the final three outs for his sixth save in eight chances. Laffey, 3-1, was the winner. Ponson, 1-5, took the loss.
The loss dropped the Royals to 21-19 and two games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central Division. The Indians improved to 15-26.
Meche got a relatively quick hook _ at 87 pitches in six innings _ after showing fatigue in his previous start. It was his first quality start in five outings, but all he got was a no-decision.
Wright retired the first hitter in the seventh before yielding successive singles to DeRosa and Francisco. Wright then loaded the bases by hitting Jamey Carroll, although the Royals argued the ball hit the bat.
A four-pitch walk to Asdrubal Cabrera forced in a run, cut the lead to 4-3 and finished Wright.
“Bases loaded,” Wright said, “and four straight balls not a good day.”
It got worse.
Ponson replaced Wright and got Grady Sizemore to hit a potential double-play grounder to second. But Aviles dropped the ball on the exchange after recording the force.
That permitted the tying run to score before Ponson ended the inning by retiring Victor Martinez on a fly to left.
Cleveland’s sixth-inning rally allowed Fausto Carmona to gain a no-decision after allowing four runs and six hits in six innings.
Guillen’s two-run double helped the Royals build a 3-0 lead in the third, but the Indians answered with two runs in the fourth. Victor Martinez sent a one-out double over DeJesus’ head in left. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a sharp single into center -- and took second when Crisp chose to throw home.
The throw wasn’t close. Crisp’s mistake turned into a run when Jhonny Peralta grounded a single up the middle. Choo scored easily.
The Royals pushed their lead to 4-2 by scoring once in their fourth.