CLEVELAND - When you're hot you win games in lots of different ways. The Kansas City Royals are hot, and Monday night they won again, in unconventional fashion -- a game-winning wild pitch.
Elliot Johnson scored what became the winning run when Cleveland reliever Matt Albers threw a bases-loaded wild pitch in the ninth inning as the Royals beat the Indians, 2-1.
"A win is a win. We've been playing good baseball and we're enjoying it," said Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.
With the win the Royals, who have won 11 of their last 13 games, climbed back to .500 (34-34), and moved past Cleveland (34-35) and into second place in the American League's Central Division.
"It's a 'W', man. It's important to get to .500, but now it's more important to move past that," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth Indians reliever Bryan Shaw (0-1) gave up a leadoff double to Butler. Johnson pinch-ran for Butler. Lorenzo Cain drew a walk, and David Lough's bunt single loaded the bases, setting up Albers' wild pitch.
It came on a 1-2 pitch to pinch hitter Miguel Tejada, the ball bouncing through the legs of catcher Carlos Santana.
"I threw a curveball down, trying to get him to chase it, but it stayed down," Albers said. "I didn't miss by much. I'd probably throw the same pitch again, just up a little."
Johnson sprinted home from third and scored what became the winning run.
Greg Holland pitched the ninth to pick up his 15th save, preserving the win for reliever Aaron Crow (3-2).
The only down side for the Royals was that James Shields pitched great again, but didn't get a win. Shields hasn't won a game since April 30, but it's not because he's pitched poorly. In nine starts since then, Shields has a 2.53 ERA and has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of the nine starts. But he is 0-4 with five no decisions in those games.
Monday night Shields pitched six innings, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
"We're grinding out wins, so I'll take it," he said.
Shields and Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco matched zeros early in the game. In the first five innings, Carrasco allowed one hit and Shields gave up two.
Cleveland broke through in the bottom of the sixth, when Santana hit Shields' first pitch of the inning into the right-field seats for his 10th home run.
The Royals tied it in the eighth inning. Chris Getz led off with a single, and after a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar moved Getz to second, Carrasco gave way to reliever Shaw.
Shaw retired Alex Gordon on a soft line drive to third, but Eric Hosmer's bloop double into right-center scored Getz with the tying run.
Carrasco was making his first start since serving a seven-game suspension for intentionally throwing at a hitter earlier in the season. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, holding the Royals to one run on four hits, with four strikeouts and one walk.
"He was really good," said Cleveland Manager Terry Francona. "He threw his fastball to both sides of the plate, and started using his breaking ball later in the game. He had good pitch sequences. That's what we we're looking for."
Cleveland is also looking for a little more offense. The Indians have scored two runs or fewer in three of their last four games. Francona credited Shields for the Indians' lack of offense Monday.
"He's pretty good," Francona said. "He never gives in and can throw any of his pitches for strikes anytime in the count."
NOTES: Royals RHP Ervin Santana, who will start Tuesday, only has one career win at Progressive Field, but it was a no-hitter, which he achieved while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels on July 27, 2011. ... Escobar is 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts, one of five players in the majors who have stolen nine or more bases and have not been thrown out. ... Indians RHP Chris Perez, who has been on the disabled list since May 27 with a sore right shoulder, will pitch his second minor league rehab Tuesday night, one inning for Double-A Akron. Manager Terry Francona said Perez will then likely be activated later this week. ... Cleveland 1B Nick Swisher received a cortisone shot for his sore left shoulder, and Francona said he's hopeful Swisher will return to the lineup by Friday. Swisher has missed the past two games.