CLEVELAND — Extra innings, often a highlight this season, brought only heartache Saturday night for the Royals, who saw several opportunities for a comeback victory slip away before suffering a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Asdrubal Cabrera ended the game by opening the 10th inning with a home run against reliever Jesse Chavez. It was a no-doubt blast, too, to right field on a 2-1 fastball.
"Bad pitch," Chavez confirmed. "I was behind in the count. I came at him, but I didn't execute it. I didn't leave it up, but for a lefty, it was in his power zone. That's not something you want to do that late in the ballgame."
This one stung a bit.
They Royals wasted a solid start by Zack Greinke and, after erasing a 3-0 deficit, missed numerous chances to push across the go-ahead run in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
"It's been a grind for us lately," manager Ned Yost said, "but we keep grinding it out. Even if we fall down three or four runs, I still feel like these guys have a chance to battle back. If the game stays close, they always find a way to do it.
"We just couldn't get that one last final hit."
The Royals typically excel in extra innings. They had three overtime victories in four opportunities over the previous seven days and, prior to Saturday, were 10-5 when playing bonus frames. That included a 6-2 mark on the road, where any lead brings Joakim Soria into the game.
They just couldn't get to Soria.
The loss followed a 15-4 bludgeoning by the Indians in Friday's series opener and leaves the Royals (54-75) just one game ahead of Cleveland (53-76) in the battle to avoid last place in the American League Central Division.
The teams play eight more times in the season's final 33 games, including this afternoon when the Indians seek to complete a three-game sweep.
Wilson Betemit pulled the Royals out of a three-run hole almost single-handedly. He hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning against Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez and tied the game with an RBI double in the eighth against reliever Rafael Perez.
"The last couple of games," Betemit said, "I wasted a lot of at-bats. On Friday, I left a lot of men on base. I was swinging too hard. I came back today and slowed my swing down just a little and had better at-bats."
Greinke settled for a third no-decision in his last four starts but was in top form despite allowing one run in the first and two more in the second.
"After the second inning," he said, "I was thinking, 'Man, they might score 15 runs again tonight, and there's nothing I can do about it.' I couldn't imagine executing much better than I did the first two innings."
Greinke allowed three runs and eight hits in eight innings for his 19th quality start, including his 11th in his last 14 games. Chavez pitched a one-two-three ninth before surrendering Cabrera's homer.
"It felt really good," Cabrera said, "because I can't remember ever hitting a home run to win a game."
Gomez worked five shutout innings before Betemit boomed a two-run homer in the sixth. Gomez departed after a two-out walk in the inning but turned over a one-run lead to Tony Sipp, who nursed it through the seventh.
Those missed chances proved costly.