Indians 5, Royals 1
CLEVELAND (AP)—Pitching and defense put the Cleveland Indians over .500 Sunday.
Jake Westbrook pitched a six-hitter, helped by infielders Ronnie Belliard, Omar Vizquel and Casey Blake, and the Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 to move above .500 for the first time since the start of the 2003 season
“Those plays were huge,” Westbrook said. “Ronnie’s play was unbelievable. Omar and Casey took away sure hits, too.”
Westbrook (8-5) allowed one unearned run in his fourth complete game of the season, and rookie Grady Sizemore hit his first major league homer. Westbrook, who struck out three and walked two, improved to 6-0 with a 2.34 ERA at Jacobs Field this season.
Cleveland swept a four-game series from the Royals for the first time.
“We played well enough to win two and lost four,” Kansas City manager Tony Pena said.
The Indians (50-49) took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and won for the eighth time in 11 games to surpass .500 for the first time since they were 2-1 on April 3, 2003. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has maintained that going over .500 would indicate to him whether his team was a contender and could factor into his decision on trades.
“I’m happy for these guys because it is definitely a big stage,” manager Eric Wedge said. “But we have to keep it going.”
Belliard raced out from his second-base position in the seventh and made an over-the-shoulder catch of a blooper by Angel Berroa in right field. He easily doubled Joe Randa off first base for a double play.
“I surprised even myself,” Belliard said. “I think the ball caught my glove more than my glove catching the ball.”
In the eighth, Vizquel ranged from shortstop and turned a sharply hit ball up the middle by David DeJesus into an out with a diving stop and throw. In the ninth, Blake dived to his left to turn a ball hit by Ken Harvey into a double play.
Kansas City, which has the worst record in the AL at 35-62, lost for the eighth time in 10 games.
Zack Greinke (2-8) gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. At 20 the youngest player currently in the major leagues, Greinke dropped to 1-7 since June 8.
“I was just pounding my fastball,” Greinke said. “That didn’t work and probably won’t work very often.”
Cleveland, which had been 0-5 in games when it was at .500, went ahead in the first when Jody Gerut hit a leadoff double, was bunted to third by Vizquel and scored on Travis Hafner’s broken-bat RBI single.
Hafner went to third when Blake broke an 0-for-16 streak with a double. Greinke loaded the bases with a walk to Ben Broussard, and Belliard hit a two-run single. Coco Crisp followed with an RBI groundout.
Kansas City scored an unearned run in the fourth. After Matt Stairs reached on an error by Vizquel, Randa hit an RBI single. It was his first hit in five at-bats since he returned Saturday after missing nearly two months because of arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Cleveland pitchers allowed seven earned runs in the series for a 1.66 ERA. … Westbrook improved to 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA in his career against Kansas City. … Gerut went 2-for-4 as he batted leadoff for the first time this season. On Saturday, he hit ninth for the first time in his career. … The Royals are 6-16 in July. … Royals 1B Mike Sweeney went 0-for-3 but is hitting .386 (27-for-70) with six homers and 20 RBI this month.