KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Cleveland Indians needed some two-out magic to take the Royals to extra innings. Two innings later, they did it again.
Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez singled home runs with two out in the 11th inning and the Indians rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals to remain 2 1/2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
The Indians almost didn’t get to extra innings. Down to their final out in the ninth, Sizemore hit a two-strike double off Royals closer Joakim Soria. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single to center to score Sizemore. Soria was charged with his fourth blown save in 18 opportunities. His previous blown save was May 20 at Colorado.
“When we were down going into the ninth with two out, it was looking pretty bleak,” said Casey Blake, who had two hits and an RBI. “It was a huge win for us.”
Indians manager Eric Wedge said the Indians have gotten used to playing to the last out.
“The game changed in a minute and a half,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Asdrubal has given us a big boost. He’s right in the middle of everything. We had to work at it late. We really had some guys to step up late. Grady with the big hit. Asdrubal with the big knock to tie it. Hafner coming up huge for the ballclub and huge for him.”
Hafner’s single off John Bale, the sixth Royals pitcher, scored Franklin Gutierrez, who led off the 11th with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sizemore, who was hit by a Bale pitch, scored the second run of the inning on a Martinez single.
“I was trying to the hit the ball hard, knowing if I get a base hit that’s a run,” Hafner said.
Joel Peralta (1-3), the fifth Royals pitcher, walked Gutierrez and was charged with the loss.
Rafael Betancourt (3-0), who threw 18 strikes out of 22 pitches, struck out three in two perfect innings to pick up the victory. Joe Borowski got his 37th save in 42 chances.
Blake said the game was especially crucial, because the team was aware of Detroit’s win over New York.
“We’re pressing September and everyone watches the standings,” he said. “You see Detroit win today. It was good to be able to come back against good pitching, to tie it up.”
Many teams will claim they don’t watch the scoreboard. Not the Indians.
“Definitely, I’m not going to lie to you,” Blake said. “Everyone does at this point.”
Said Borowski: “You find yourself peeking at the scoreboard yourself and I’m sure everyone else is. As long as you take care of your own business, everything will work out. It’s not like you’re going to win every game, but set your sights realistically.”
The Indians finished a nine-game road trip at 5-4, and traveled home to start a seven-game homestand today.
“Our guys are not going to be perfect out of the bullpen,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “Sizemore had a two-strike hit. That’s a tough loss when you get that close to a win. In the last inning, the walk is not something you want to start off.”
Emil Brown drove in two runs and scored the other for the Royals.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings. Carmona is 2-4 in his past seven starts, despite a 2.29 ERA. The Indians have scored 11 runs in that span.
Royals right-hander Gil Meche held the Indians to two runs and seven hits over six innings, while striking out four and walking two. Meche, who the Royals signed to a five-year $55 million contract in December, is 0-5 in seven starts since his last win July 20.
Down 2-0 in the sixth, the Royals scored three when Brown singled to center to score David DeJesus and Ross Gload. Brown took second on Jason Smith’s ground out and scored on Shane Costa’s two-out single.
Blake stroked a two-out RBI single in the second for the first Cleveland run. Blake’s single to center scored Ryan Garko, who led off the inning with a single, took second on a Kenny Lofton walk and went to took third on Franklin Gutierrez’s fielder’s choice ground out.
Alex Gordon’s first error in 44 games and the Royals’ first in 10 games led to an Indians’ run in the fifth. Blake led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on Gordon’s throwing error. Blake stopped at third on Sizemore’s infield single and scored when Cabrera grounded into a double play.
C John Buck was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning, bringing the Royals’ total to 76, which leads the majors and ties the club record set in 2004.
• DH Mike Sweeney struck out in his only two at-bats Sunday with Omaha, the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, against Round Rock. Sweeney is 2-for-8 in three rehab games with Omaha.