KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Consecutive loss No. 12 in what Kansas City manager Trey Hillman calls “this miserable streak” could hardly have been more entertaining for fans or more maddening for the Royals.
A baserunning mistake cost the Royals one chance to score the tying run and an outstanding defensive play cost them another. Then the Cleveland Indians ended a 5-4 victory Friday night with a great outfield catch by Grady Sizemore, who had already hit two of their three home runs.
“That was a helluva baseball game,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.
“I’m at a loss,” said Hillman, whose Royals own the longest losing streak in the majors in nearly two years.
Cliff Lee (8-1) had an off night but still moved into a tie for the AL lead in victories, allowing four runs and 10 hits in six innings. His ERA rose from 1.50 to 1.88, still good enough to lead the league.
Kansas City blew a 4-1 lead while creeping to within one of the 13-game losing streak they endured in May 2006. Pittsburgh also lost 13 straight in June 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I know what Sizemore can do,” said Hillman. “He’s a great center fielder. But at the very least, I thought the game was tied as soon as it left the bat. With a hope and a prayer I was hoping it was going to go where I thought it was going to go, and get out of the ballpark.”
Instead, Sizemore ran back and banged into the wall, falling to the turf and coming up with the ball and the victory in his glove.
“I got a really good jump on it,” said Sizemore, who skinned his right knee. “I bumped the wall a little on my knee after the catch. I’m fine.”
The Royals’ worst mistake came when they were trailing by one run in the fifth. With Joey Gathright on second and David DeJesus on first, Esteban German singled to right with two outs. DeJesus, after making a wide turn at second, tried to come back to the bag but was tagged out by shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Plate umpire Brian Runge waved off what would have been the tying run, saying Gathright touched the plate a split second after Peralta tagged DeJesus. Royals manager Trey Hillman said Gathright, the Royals’ fastest runner, deserved as much blame as DeJesus.
“No doubt about it. He slowed down to look at the play,” said Hillman. “You can’t make that mistake. He wasn’t going elbows and rear ends like he’s got to on that play just in case the initial runner from first base makes a mistake.”
DeJesus insisted it was all his fault.
“I take full responsibility,” he said. “You saw me laying face first in the dirt. I didn’t want to get up. We could have tied the game and you never know what happens from there.”
Lee seemed to agree with Hillman.
“I was backing up home and saw Gathright running hard,” he said. “Then he saw the throw going to second and he pulled back a little bit.”
On the final bang-bang play, left fielder Ben Francisco also crashed into the wall as he backed up Blake.
“The way Sizemore and Francisco went after the last ball is what it’s all about,” said Wedge. “It was one of those games where every little bit meant something in the end.”
“I had to battle,” Lee said. “Give a lot of credit to our offense and defense. We made some unbelievable plays.”
Peralta doubled ahead of Blake’s drive off Tomko in the sixth. Tomko went one inning and gave up two runs and two hits.
Borowski pitched the ninth for his fourth save in six opportunities.
Buck doubled in Teahen in the fourth and DeJesus added an RBI single off Lee to make it 4-1.
It was Sizemore’s third career two-homer game and his second this season. … KC has allowed three or more home runs four times this season and are 0-4 in those games. The Royals haven’t hit a ball over the fence since May 22 in Boston.