Cleveland Jeremy Guthrie has had problems keeping the ball in the park all season. He was burned by the home run again Saturday night.
Lonnie Chisenhall hit his first career grand slam in the sixth inning off the right-hander, sparking the Indians to a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Chisenhall’s two-out shot caromed off the facing of the second deck in right field and fell into the Royals bullpen to give Cleveland a 5-0 lead. It was the 22nd home run allowed by Guthrie this season, tying him with Joe Blanton of the Angels for the most in the American League.
“I think I threw the ball pretty well tonight, but we can all agree that was not a great pitch to Chisenhall,” Guthrie said. “It was a curveball that stayed up, so that’s my fault, but any time a guy hits a first-pitch breaking ball for a home run, he’s done a pretty good job.”
Guthrie (8-7) went seven innings, scattering eight hits and three walks while striking out three. He has only won once in six starts since June 10, allowing six homers while going 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the third on Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly, which began a string of nine straight retired by Guthrie, who was Cleveland’s first-round draft pick in 2002.
Kipnis singled to lead off the sixth and Michael Brantley added a one-out double, forcing Royals manager Ned Yost to make a decision.
Yost intentionally walked Carlos Santana to load the bases and Guthrie followed by striking out Jason Giambi. Chisenhall spoiled the strategy by jumping on the first pitch he saw and driving it 388 feet off an auxiliary scoreboard.
“Jeremy was really good, really good tonight,” Yost said. “I thought that inning just kind of developed.
“Santana had 51 walks, so you’re probably not going to sneak a couple pitches by him. I thought our best chance was to intentionally walk him. Jeremy did a great job striking out Giambi, but unfortunately that first pitch to Chisenhall stayed up.”
Kansas City answered with three runs in the seventh, chasing Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir (5-4) with two on and one out. Miguel Tejada greeted Cleveland reliever Matt Albers with an RBI single that cut the Royals’ deficit to 5-1 before David Lough grounded out.
Indians manager Terry Francona intentionally walked All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon to load the bases. Alcides Escobar beat out an infield single to short, which allowed Kansas City to pull to 5-3 when Lorenzo Cain and Miguel Tejada both hustled home.
“Any time I hit the ball, I hustle, so it worked out,” Escobar said.
“That was good hustle by Esky and good hustle by Tejada to score from second on an infield hit,” Yost said.
Billy Butler and Cain both singled in the eighth off Cleveland reliever Vinnie Pestano, but were stranded when Tejada’s liner to first was stabbed by Santana.
Kazmir remained unbeaten this season at Progressive Field, where he is 5-0 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts. Chris Perez tossed a perfect ninth for his 12th save as Cleveland moved within 1 1-2 games of first place Detroit in the AL Central.
Kansas City lost its fourth straight contest and remains seven games behind the Tigers, while Guthrie fell to 3-3 all-time against his former team.
“I was looking for something I could get the barrel on,” Chisenhall said of his grand slam. “I saw the same curveball in my at-bat earlier, and I took it. I took what I saw there and I used it to my advantage.”
NOTES: The Royals recalled LHP Everett Teaford from Triple-A Omaha and optioned LHP Donnie Joseph to the Storm Chasers. Joseph, who made his major league debut Thursday against the Yankees, tossed 1 1-3 scoreless innings in two appearances. “We needed a fresh arm in the bullpen, so we made the move,” Yost said. “But I thought Donnie did well and got his feet wet, which was important. Now, he’s going to be more relaxed the next time we need him.” Teaford went 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 23 games for Omaha. ... Royals RHP Wade Davis will be activated off the paternity leave list Sunday, but stayed in New York with his wife Katelyn and their first child. “The baby was born late (Friday) night, so there’s no need for him to come here,” Yost said. ... Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4) faces Royals RHP James Shields (4-6) in the three-game series finale Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Yost will announce his post All-Star break pitching rotation before the game.