CLEVELAND A day after grumbling about Cleveland s inability to produce good at-bats, Grady Sizemore took matters into his own hands.
Sizemore greeted reliever Ron Mahay with a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the eighth inning Thursday and the Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2.
Cleveland took two of three for its first series victory of the season. The last-place Indians bounced back from a 2-0 loss Wednesday night.
To be effective, you have to win series, Sizemore said. And to gain ground on your division, you have to be able to win series against those guys, so it was big for us.
Royals starter Gil Meche (1-1) had retired 16 straight batters and took a 2-1 lead into the eighth. An error by second baseman Alberto Callaspo let the tying run score and finished Meche.
Sizemore followed with his sixth home run. He is now 3-for-8 lifetime against Mahay with two homers.
He kind of reached out and touched somebody, said Mahay, who gave up the home run on a slider. If I had to do it all over again, I d do it. You live by the slider, you die by the slider.
Sizemore s homer pulled the Indians out of an offensive funk. He was irritated after Wednesday night s game, when the Indians were blanked on five hits.
I got up there with an opportunity to open the game up, Sizemore said. I wasn t necessarily trying to get a homer. I was trying to get a base hit and score a run, but it worked out.
Jensen Lewis (2-2) worked two scoreless innings for the victory. Kerry Wood pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in as many chances.
Plate umpire John Hirschbeck was examined in the sixth after getting hit in the mask by Mike Aviles foul ball. Hirschbeck dropped to one knee, but stayed in the game. Hirschbeck was struck in the mask three times and once in the foot during the afternoon.
Through seven innings, Meche was in control. The Indians only baserunners came in the second, when Shin-Soo Choo doubled, stole third and scored on a throwing error by catcher John Buck. Francisco also doubled in the inning. Meche struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
He had it all working today, Indians manager Eric Wedge said. He had his fastball, a good breaking ball, he was cutting the ball a little bit and he had a changeup, too. When he s on like that, he s tough to hit. He was on today.
Ryan Garko led off the Cleveland eighth with a double and was lifted for pinch-runner Tony Graffanino. Ben Francisco bunted for a single and when Meche s throw skipped away from first baseman Billy Butler, Graffanino ran through third-base coach Joel Skinner s stop sign and was thrown out at the plate.
Graff was overly aggressive, Wedge said. I think he thought the ball got farther away than it did. They made a good play on him, but the guys kept pushing.
Royals manager Trey Hillman went to the mound after Garko s double, but chose to stick with Meche. Pinch-hitter Travis Hafner then singled and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a grounder that Callaspo misplayed, making it 2-all and forcing Hillman to go to Mahay.
In that situation, I d do exactly what I did again, Hillman said. I stayed with the guy who had good stuff. In that position, you know you re going to get questions about staying with your starter. I still felt real good about his stuff. Obviously, it didn t work out.
It was the second straight strong start for Meche, who worked six scoreless innings for the victory last week at Texas. He struck out seven on Thursday, giving him at least six strikeouts in every start this year.
We had the game right there, Meche said. I need to get through that (eighth) inning. I made a couple of stupid pitches. They cost me the game.
Cleveland starter Anthony Reyes worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth. Coco Crisp hustled home in the fifth when Reyes threw to first on a comebacker, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Notes: Royals OF Jose Guillen is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. Guillen partially tore his right hip flexor tendon on April 9, but ran the bases on Wednesday and reported no problems ... Aviles single in the sixth snapped an 0-for-13 skid. He was dropped Thursday from second to eighth in the Royals order. ... Cleveland OF David Dellucci, on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus, entered Thursday hitting .417 through three games. Dellucci opened the season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf.
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