TONY DEJAK / AP Enlarge
CLEVELAND - Even though his team led 5-0 in the third inning, Kansas City manager Buddy Bell knew last night's game against the Cleveland Indians was far from over.
As it turned out, Bell was right. The Royals needed a late run and some strong work from their bullpen to hang on for a 6-5 win.
"Against this team, no lead feels safe," he said. "This is a really, really good team. It was a nice win."
Billy Butler, who had three hits, drove in two runs with a first-inning single, and Emil Brown hit a three-run homer in the third as the Royals built their early lead off ace C.C. Sabathia. Kansas City used four relievers with Octavio Dotel pitching the ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
Gil Meche (6-6) allowed five runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking one. He was pulled after Ryan Garko's two-run homer with none out in the sixth cut Kansas City's lead to 5-4.
Zack Grienke, Jimmy Gobble, Joakim Soria, and Dotel combined to hold the Indians to one run over the last four innings.
"They did a great job," said Meche. "I almost gave up the lead, but they kept it right there."
Mark Teahen had three hits and scored three runs for the Royals.
The Royals added a run in the seventh on a throwing error by third baseman Casey Blake. Travis Hafner's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to one again.
The Indians threatened in the ninth. Grady Sizemore doubled off Brown's glove in the left-field corner with one out. After Blake flied out, Victor Martinez lined out to left to end the game.
Kansas City jumped on Sabathia (12-4) from the start. The left-hander allowed six runs and 11 hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking two in his second straight loss.
"I think that's what you have to do against guys like that," Bell said. "If you can get him early, things are looking pretty good."
Singles by Mark Grudzielanek and Teahen started the Royals' rally in the first. Both runners scored on Butler's double to right-center.
In the third, Teahen doubled with one out and took third on Butler's infield hit. Brown homered to right on the first pitch to make it 5-0.
"I was just missing over the plate a lot," Sabathia said. "I threw some down the middle. They definitely came out with a plan to swing early. Maybe I was throwing too many strikes."
Brown's home run appeared to be a fly ball to deep right, but it kept carrying and just cleared the wall.
"The ball Brown hit, off the bat, I didn't think it would go, but it did," Sabathia said.
Sabathia has allowed has allowed 13 runs and 21 hits in 11 innings over his last two starts.
"They were real aggressive against C.C," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously that was their game plan, but our guys did a great job of fighting back, as they always do."
The Indians scored in the fourth. After Jhonny Peralta drew a two-out walk, Meche was hit by Garko's smash back to the mound and the ball rolled behind second base for a single. Bell and a team trainer visited Meche, but he stayed in the game. Trot Nixon followed with an RBI single.
"It hit off the back of my triceps," Meche said. "It came back so fast. I was just trying to duck and get out of the way."
Martinez's one-out single in the fifth scored Sizemore, who had doubled.
Peralta led off the sixth with a single and scored on Garko's homer.
NOTES: Garko was ejected in the bottom of the eighth by home plate umpire Mark Carlson for arguing after he struck out. ... Sabathia came into the game with a 12-6 career record against Kansas City. ... Meche entered the game with a 1-6 career record in nine appearances against Cleveland.41.50436 -81.69046