Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Royals started strong, six runs in the first inning.
“And then go about three hours without scoring a run,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
Hosmer, who hit a three-run homer in the big first, scored the winning run on Alcides Escobar’s two-out, two-strike single in the 11th inning and the Royals defeated the Cleveland Indians 7-6 on Thursday night.
The Indians lost their sixth straight, their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row from June 19-26, 2010.
Aaron Crow (2-1), the sixth Royals pitcher, worked a spotless 11th inning to pick up the victory.
Reliever Esmil Rogers (1-1), the fifth of six Indians pitchers, took the loss. Carlos Santana homered and drove in four runs for Cleveland.
Hosmer led off the 11th with a single, advanced to second on a single by Chris Getz, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Escobar’s single off Chris Perez.
“That just kind of explains the year Esky is having right there,” Hosmer said. “He’s been carrying us pretty much the whole way. He did what he’s been doing all year. He came up with the big hit and a big sweep in the division.”
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, who was making his first major league start, faced 10 batters in the first inning and gave up six runs, six hits and a walk, throwing 43 pitches.
“The kid had a rough first inning,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He didn’t throw his good slider. Then he settled down after that. I like what I saw. He can compete. I liked the way he competed. I’m very happy with the way we came back and had a chance to win, but their bullpen held us down.”
Alex Gordon began the Royals’ six-run first with his seventh career leadoff home run. Hosmer’s three-run homer to center was the big blow of the inning and Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson had run-scoring singles.
Kluber, however, pitched longer than Royals veteran left-hander Bruce Chen, who was yanked after 2 2-3 innings, allowing four runs, seven hits, one walk and two sacrifice flies. In seven starts since July 1, Chen is 0-3 with an 8.73 ERA, allowing 32 runs, 50 hits and 11 walks in 33 innings.
“He didn’t throw the ball good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s not using his good fastball. He might have thrown three pitches over 85 miles per hour. It’s in there. He threw one 88. Everything is soft.
“He needs to pick his game up. We need him to be solid for us. He’s one of our veteran pitchers. We need him to be on the attack and after hitters. To put a six-spot on the board, it’s a pretty big cushion and not to be able to get out of the third inning, we need to do better than that.”
Kluber made it through 4 1-3 innings, giving up no runs and three hits after the first.
The Indians got a run in the second when Michael Brantley led off with a double and scored on Vinny Rottino’s sacrifice fly.
The Indians cut the lead to 6-4 with a three-run third, which was highlighted by a two-run single by Santana. Brantley drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Santana homered with Brent Lillibridge aboard in the fifth off Everett Teaford, who replaced Chen. Santana hit an 0-2 pitch out to left.
“I tried to be quick to the plate and left the ball up on 0-2,” Teaford said. “That’s an inexcusable pitch.”
Notes: DH Travis Hafner, who is on the paternity list, is scheduled to rejoin the Indians on Saturday at Detroit. Hafner returned to Cleveland to be with his wife Amy, who gave birth to an 8-pound boy. ... RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who is 0-2 since being acquired in a July 20 trade with Colorado, will make his third start for the Royals, on Friday against Texas. . The Royals scored 18 runs in the first three innings of the three-game series with the Indians. ... Kluber became the seventh pitcher to start for the Indians this season. That ties Seattle for the fewest starters used in the AL. Kansas City has used a league-high 12.