CLEVELAND (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have a two-game winning streak for the first time since the opening week of the season.
“We can’t lose now,” left fielder Alex Gordon joked after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. “It’s unbelievable.”
Kansas City’s 8-2 win a day earlier stopped a 12-game skid, tied for the third-longest in franchise history. The Royals (5-14) hadn’t strung together wins since beating the Los Angeles Angels on April 7-8.
“It feels good to get two out of three on the road,” Gordon said. “It’s a lot more fun winning than losing, especially 12 in a row. We’re enjoying it, but I think we came here today with the goal to win again.”
Luis Mendoza pitched into the sixth inning, and Kansas City’s bullpen made the lead stand up. Jeff Francoeur hit a go-ahead single in a three-run fifth for Kansas City.
Kansas City is tied for the worst record in the AL with Minnesota at 5-14. The cellar-dwellers meet in Minneapolis for a weekend series.
Manager Ned Yost hopes the Royals’ luck has changed.
“That’s why those streaks happen,” he said. “You can’t catch a break. You can’t find a hole. They’re making great plays. You’re not getting a call from an umpire. It’s always something. Don’t ask me what it is. Whatever it is, when it turns you get on the right side of it for a while.”
Cleveland, coming off a 7-2 trip, fell to 2-6 at home.
Mendoza (1-2) was pulled with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, but the Indians scored only one run on Travis Hafner’s sacrifice fly. Relievers Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Jonathan Broxton held Cleveland in check the last four innings. Broxton pitched the ninth for his second save.
Josh Tomlin (1-2) allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings.
Broxton retired Jose Lopez to start the ninth, but Jason Kipnis singled. After Aaron Cunningham flied out, Michael Brantley walked on a 3-2 pitch and Asdrubal Cabrera flied out.
Kansas City broke a 1-all tie in the fifth with consecutive two-out hits by Francoeur, Mike Moustakas and Brayan Pena. Gordon had two hits and a walk and raised his average from .167 to .213 in two games. Billy Butler, who homered twice Wednesday, had two hits and was hit by a pitch.
“That’s what it takes, it takes some clutch hitting,” Butler said. “Those were the difference in the game for us.”
The fifth-inning rally started on one-out singles by Gordon and Butler. Eric Hosmer’s fly to deep right moved Gordon to third, and Francoeur’s broken-bat hit to left put the Royals ahead. Shelley Duncan attempted to make a diving catch, but came up short.
Moustakas followed with a grounder through the right side that scored Butler and finished Tomlin. Pena lined a single off Dan Wheeler to drive in the third run.
Cleveland outscored the Royals 32-19 in a three-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium earlier this month. Mendoza was the losing pitcher in a 13-7 defeat on April 15 in Kansas City. He allowed nine runs — five earned — and nine hits in four innings. This time he gave up two runs.
“He made some big pitches when he needed to,” Yost said. “He wasn’t in much trouble until the sixth inning. He did a good job.”
The game was delayed for several moments in the fifth when Kipnis got something in his right eye while batting. He initially stepped out of the batters’ box and then walked toward Cleveland’s dugout where he was assisted by trainer Lonnie Soloff. Although Kipnis still seemed distracted, he drew a walk and singled in his last two at-bats.
“I have no idea what happened,” Kipnis said. “All of a sudden, it just felt like a ton of eyelashes got in there. Then I started scratching it, but I had pine tar on the glove, so that irritated it even more and it started getting swollen shut. I had to open my stance up, so my back eye could see because I couldn’t see much of anything out of my front one.”
Following the game Kipnis was wearing tape above his eye to keep the eyelid open.