KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Cleveland Indians are dropping from contenders to pretenders quickly in the AL Central.
The Indians have lost 3 ½ games in the standings in a span of five games, all losses.
They fell behind early again in a 5-2 loss Wednesday night to the Kansas City Royals, who have the worst record (43-60) in the AL and won consecutive games for the first time since June 27-29.
The Indians have been outscored 41-11 in their five-game losing streak, matching their longest of the season. After taking two-of-three from the Detroit Tigers, the Indians were 3 ½ games out of first and a game above .500 on July 26.
"It's been a rough five days," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Since that win in the last game at Detroit we haven't done anything to help us win a game.
"I never expect to lose any game. I never expect to lose five in a row but it is the big leagues and it is tough to win games up here. Things can change fast."
The Royals jumped to a 4-0 lead after two innings and have scored 12 runs in the first three innings to win the first two games of this series.
"No one wants to be playing catch-up baseball, especially in a losing streak and especially when you're not a powerhouse team," Acta said. "When you have to climb out of a hole, four or five runs down, guys start pressing."
Indians rookie right-hander Zach McAllister (4-3) gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in six innings.
"I wasn't commanding the zone like I needed to and I wasn't being aggressive," McAllister said of the first two innings. "The losing streak is disappointing. We wanted to end it yesterday. We'll get another opportunity tomorrow to come in and try to get a win."
The Royals stole four bases with McAllister on the mound. Opponents have swiped nine bases without being caught in his 11 starts.
"I know they like to run, but I've got to do a better job of throwing over," McAllister said. "That can't happen."
Luis Mendoza pitched into the eighth inning, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson stroked two hits each and drove in a run in the Royals' victory.
Mendoza (5-7) limited the Indians to two runs and four hits, only one after the fourth inning, and went 7 1-3 innings to pick up the victory. Mendoza, who was 1-3 in his four previous starts, did not throw more than 11 pitches in an inning except for the third when he threw 25.
Alcides Escobar walked with one out in the first and stopped at second on Cain's single. On a double steal, catcher Carlos Santana threw the ball into left field, allowing Escobar to score and Cain to take third. Cain, who is hitting .313 since coming off the disabled list, wound up scoring on a groundout by Billy Butler.
In the second inning, Chris Getz walked, stole second and scored on Dyson's single to center. Dyson stole second and scored on Alex Gordon's major league-leading 37th double.
Santana homered in the fourth for the first Indians run.
Jose Mijares replaced Mendoza with one out in the eighth after a double by Jack Hannahan, Mijares hit Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch and gave up a run-producing single to Asdrubal Cabrera.
Greg Holland, who replaced Jonathan Broxton as the closer after he was traded Tuesday to Cincinnati, worked a spotless ninth for his first save since Sept. 25.
Notes: The Indians placed DH Travis Hafner on the paternity list Wednesday and recalled IF-OF Vinny Rottino from Triple-A Columbus. The Indians claimed Rottino on waivers June 27 from the New York Mets. .Indians RHP Corey Kluber will make his first big league start Thursday against the Indians. He had an 8.31 ERA in three Cleveland relief appearances last September in his only prior big league experience. .The Royals recalled RHP Jeremy Jeffress from Triple-A Omaha. .Royals LHP Bruce Chen, who starts Thursday, has won six of his past seven decisions against the Indians.