KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the second straight game, Cleveland reliever John Axford gave up the winning hit.
Billy Butler’s two-run, two-out, eighth-inning, pinch-homer off Axford was the difference in the Kansas City Royals’ 6-4 victory over the Indians on Friday night.
On Thursday, Nori Aoki punched a RBI-single in the 14th inning off Axford to give the Royals a 2-1 win.
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Axford said Aoki’s hit had no lingering effect on Friday.
“Everything is fresh for me,” Axford said. “That’s something I pride myself on. I feel good. I feel strong. It’s obviously tough after the last two nights.”
The Indians signed Axford to be their closer after he saved 106 games for Milwaukee and was the Brewers’ closer from 2010-12. Axford, however, hasn’t earned a save since May 3 and has lost that job.
“I’ll keep going through it and be patient, prepare myself and get ready to go back in that role if that situation comes back,” Axford said.
Axford didn’t get the ball back after Butler’s 422-foot blast to left.
“It was just a bad pitch,” Axford said. “I let it stay out over the plate. It was supposed to be away and it ended up in the seats.”
Carlos Santana homered twice for the Indians, who have lost five of six.
“We have to win games, and to make that change it starts with starting pitching,” said Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who was pulled in the sixth.
The Royals won a game of matchup moves. After Salvador Perez singled with one out in the eighth off Carlos Carrasco (3-4), Nick Hagadone entered and got the second out.
Butler batted for Raul Ibanez and homered on Axford’s second pitch.
Earlier in the game, the 42-year-old Ibanez drove in a run when he became the oldest Royals player to hit a triple. Ibanez scored on the play when second baseman Jason Kipnis made a wild relay throw.
Kelvin Herrera (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Aaron Crow worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to earn his second save in four chances.
Royals closer Greg Holland, who had pitched in the three previous games, was unavailable.
Perez, who had three hits, and Mike Moustakas had back-to-back home runs to open the second. It was the second time this season Perez and Moustakas hit consecutive homers, having also done it April 23 at Cleveland.
Royals rookie Yordano Ventura, tagged for six runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings in his previous start at Boston, left after 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs and struck out seven.
Santana hit a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run shot in the sixth.
Tomlin, 1-5 in his previous seven starts, was pulled after 5 1/3 innings.
NOTES: RHP Jeremy Guthrie, a first-round pick of the Indians in the 2002 draft, will start Saturday against Cleveland. RHP Zack McAllister will start for the Indians. ... Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson, a 2013 All-Star who is on the disabled list with right knee inflammation, made his second rehab start Friday with Triple-A Columbus. He allowed five runs, four hits and six walks in 6 2/3 innings against Norfolk. ... Indians RF David Murphy had three singles for his sixth three-hit game of the season. ... CF Michael Brantley snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a sixth-inning single.