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Royals' De La Rosa struggles as Indians avoid sweep

• Unsung heroes: Cleveland's Casey Blake went 2-for-5 with a double, triple, three RBIs and scored a run. Teammate Ryan Garko was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run.

• Figure this: Cleveland's victory gave each team 243 wins against the other, in a series dating to the Royals' expansion season in 1969.

• Figure this II: Cleveland's 10 runs matched its total from the first two games of the series against the Royals.

• Quotable: "He didn't establish his fastball early. He didn't get a strike call here or there, and he didn't know where to go with it. You've still got to keep throwing the pitch. He didn't seem like the same guy." -- Royals manager Buddy Bell on De La Rosa


-- ESPN.com news services

Indians 10, Royals 3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jeremy Sowers had already seen what the
Kansas City Royals could do to an opponent's early lead.

He gave them little chance to do it to him.

Given a five-run cushion in the first inning, Sowers scattered
six hits over seven innings and earned his first win of the season
in the Cleveland Indians' 10-3 victory Thursday night.

"We played great defense, hit the ball well and I actually
pitched decent, finally," said Sowers, who won for the first time
since beating Toronto 7-2 on Sept. 5, 2006. "Whether it's a
turnaround, time will tell -- but it's a step in the right
direction."

Despite Sowers' early-season struggles, manager Eric Wedge said
he had not lost confidence in the young left-hander.

"I trust him, first of all -- as a person, in his ability and as
a kid who does the work," Wedge said. "He's very cerebral in his
work, which for a young player can work against you at times. But I
think he's pointing in the right direction."

The Royals, who came back from first-inning deficits of 2-0 and
3-0 to win the first two games of the series, couldn't get out of
the hole this time.

Jason Michaels capped Cleveland's five-run first inning with a
three-run homer. Casey Blake added a three-run triple and also
doubled for the Indians, who have the majors' best home record at
17-4 but are still two games under .500 (11-13) on the road.

Ryan Garko had three hits for Cleveland, including a two-run
single in the first.

Sowers, who had one walk and one strikeout, was relieved by
Roberto Hernandez to start the eighth.

Hernandez gave up Shane Costa's RBI single and left after
walking Alex Gordon to load the bases with two out. Aaron Fultz
walked Ryan Shealy, forcing in a run that got Kansas City within
10-3.

Mike Koplove relieved Fultz and ended the threat when he got
John Buck, who had already homered twice in the series, to line out
to left field.

The Indians, who also denied Kansas City its first series sweep
of the year, took advantage of early control problems by starter
Jorge De La Rosa (4-4) as the Royals lost for just the third time
in their last 11 games.

De La Rosa allowed a career-high seven walks -- one intentional --
and hit a batter in 4 1/3 innings. He gave up nine runs and six
hits with two strikeouts, and his ERA went up from 3.59 to 4.65.

"He didn't establish his fastball early," manager Buddy Bell
said. "He didn't get a strike call here or there, and he didn't
know where to go with it. You've still got to keep throwing the
pitch. He didn't seem like the same guy."

Joel Peralta relieved De La Rosa with the bases loaded and one
out in the fifth. Peralta got Andy Marte to pop out in foul
territory, but then walked Grady Sizemore to force in a run that
put Cleveland up 7-1.

Blake followed with a bases-clearing triple down the line in
right field, making it 10-1.

Three of De La Rosa's walks came in the Indians' five-run first.
All the runs scored with two out.

Travis Hafner walked, and Victor Martinez's single and a walk to
Jhonny Peralta loaded the bases. Garko's single to left scored
Hafner and Martinez, and Michaels followed with his homer to left
field for a 5-0 lead.

"He lost his composure," Bell said. "Two out, nobody on, and
before you know it, we're down five runs."

Hafner walked again in the second, increasing his league-leading
total to 42, and Martinez's RBI single later in the inning put the
Indians up 6-0.

Esteban German matched a career high with four hits for the
Royals. Three were infield singles.

Game notes
Fultz faced two batters in the series, and gave up
bases-loaded walks both times. ... Michaels was denied another RBI
in the sixth inning, when Garko tried to score from second on
Michaels' single but was thrown out from left field by German. The
Royals' 15 outfield assists tie them with Minnesota for the AL
lead. ... Both of German's four-hit games have come against the
Indians. He did it Sept. 12, 2006 at Cleveland. ... Cleveland's win
gave each team 243 wins against the other, in a series dating to
the Royals' expansion season in 1969. ... The Royals started German
in left field to give Emil Brown a rest. Bell said Brown has a sore
back but could play if needed. ... Kansas City's David DeJesus
extended his hitting streak to eight games.