KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jake Westbrook opened the game with a four-pitch walk and worked around traffic for most of his six innings. He still didn't have full confidence in his sinker, dropping his arm angle to offset his insecurity.
What Westbrook did get was a win, his first since reconstructive right elbow surgery. No matter how he got there, that sure feels good.Russell Branyan homered twice in support of Westbrook's first win in two years, lifting the Cleveland Indians to an 8-2 victory over the backpedaling Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night."It's nice to get that first win and pitch well doing it," said Westbrook, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2008. "It wasn't real pretty, but I put up some zeros and only gave up that one run. I had baserunners all night but made pitches when I had to."Westbrook (1-2) used his sinker and an occasional drop-down delivery to induce 13 groundouts and held the Royals to five hits for his first win since April 8, 2008, against the Los Angeles Angels.Branyan provided the power, hitting a two-run homer off Brian Bannister (1-3) in the second and a solo shot off Joakim Soria in the ninth for his first multihomer game in exactly three years. Jhonny Peralta added a two-run double, Austin Kearns scored three runs and had an RBI, and the Indians collected 10 hits to win consecutive games for the first time in a month."He [Westbrook] gave us a chance to get our lineup going," Indians manager Manny Acta said.This matchup featured the bottom of the AL Central.The last-place Royals were coming off a 3-8 season-long trip that ended with a four-game sweep at Texas. The lowlights included too many walks, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's fine-inducing botched popup and an inexplicable failure by the entire team to notice a runner advancing to second without tagging up.The Royals followed the dismal trip with another clunker, getting an average outing from Bannister, an almost-predictable bullpen blowup and base-to-base hitting to see their losing streak reach six games."I think everybody is putting a lot of pressure on themselves in every aspect of the game," Bannister said after his 100th career appearance. "We're playing tense out there."The Indians have only been marginally better.Plagued by swing-and-miss hitting, Cleveland tumbled down the standings with three wins in 12 games. Cleveland struck out 86 times in an eight-game homestand and entered Tuesday as the third-worst team in baseball at scoring and hitting homers.The Indians ended a five-game skid Sunday against the Detroit Tigers by getting five RBIs from their No. 7-8 hitters and got production from the middle of the lineup to beat the Royals in the opener of an eight-game road trip.It was more than Westbrook needed.He battled a tight back against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander was much looser against the Royals, allowing a run-scoring single to Billy Butler in the third inning but just one runner past first base after that."I'm very happy for Jake," Acta said. "He was finally able to get that first win and get over that hurdle of the sixth inning."Bannister recorded just nine outs in his previous outing, against the Chicago White Sox last Wednesday.The right-hander went a little deeper in this one but was hurt by two inopportune walks.Branyan followed Kearns' leadoff walk in the second with his first homer since last August, pulling a pitch out of the strike zone over the wall in right-center. Another leadoff walk scored in the fourth, when Peralta hit a two-run double to the wall in left-center that put the Indians up 4-0.Bannister allowed four runs and six hits in six innings."The walks hurt. Obviously, they hurt Banny," said Royals manager Trey Hillman, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a close play at third on a double steal. "We've got to figure out something to eliminate them."Cleveland blew it open against Kansas City's combustible bullpen in the seventh, scoring three runs on a groundout, a bases-loaded walk and Kearns' run-scoring single.
Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore had two singles after going 9-for-35 the previous eight games. ... Butler knocked in Kansas City's other run with a groundout in the eighth. ... Indians second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was 1-for-2 in his first game at Kauffman Stadium since leaving the Royals in 2008.