KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Before Omar Vizquel could score the
game-winning run, he had to prevent one.
Cleveland's shortstop threw out Kansas City's Joe Randa at the
plate to end the ninth inning Friday night, then tripled and scored
on Matt Lawton's sacrifice fly in the 11th to give the Indians a
7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Vizquel slipped out before reporters arrived in the Indians'
clubhouse, but he didn't leave anyone else at a loss for words.
Half an hour after the game, Royals reliever Scott Sullivan was
still shaking his head over Vizquel's blooper that fell just fair
to lead off the 11th.
"I was willing it foul, and in my mind I thought it looked
foul," said Sullivan (3-4). "But it wasn't. It was just a
well-placed hit, and unfortunately I didn't make the pitches to
keep him at third."
Right fielder Matt Stairs, slowed by a sore hamstring and
playing deep to try to take away a double, also thought the ball
had fallen foul.
"That's just our luck right now," said Stairs, who homered and
drove in four runs.
Vizquel, hitless in his first five at-bats, extended his hitting
streak to 12 games with the triple. He slid home on Lawton's
sacrifice fly but easily beat the throw.
Randa wasn't so fortunate in the ninth, when the Royals tied it
at 6 on Mike Sweeney's two-out double down the line in left.
Randa, who walked with two out, tried to score from first on the
double but was thrown out at the plate by Vizquel's relay from left
fielder Coco Crisp.
"That relay throw was why we kept playing," Cleveland manager
Eric Wedge said.
Rafael Betancourt (4-4) pitched perfect 10th and 11th innings
for the win, striking out four, after the Indians blew a 5-0 lead
in the fourth inning.
"This game gives us the confidence to go out and be in the (AL
Central) race," Betancourt said. "It's too early to talk about
September, but it's fun to be playing for a playoff spot now."
Ronnie Belliard hit three doubles for the Indians, who won for
the seventh time in eight games and have beaten Kansas City five
times in the last 10 days. The Royals' eighth straight loss matched
a season high.
The Indians took a 6-5 lead in the eighth on a throwing error by
pitcher Dennys Reyes.
Crisp singled with two out and then stole second. Grady Sizemore
followed with a dribbler that he beat out for an infield single,
and Reyes' throw in the dirt allowed the speedy Crisp to score.
Belliard went 3-for-5, matched a career high with his doubles,
and scored a run. But he also flied out to right with the bases
loaded to end the 10th.
That wasn't the Indians' only wasted opportunity in the inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Casey Blake tried to score on
Jaime Cerda's pitch in the dirt. But catcher John Buck, a
10th-inning defensive replacement, tracked the ball down and
flipped to Cerda for the tag at the plate.
Royals starter Brian Anderson was shelled for five runs and
eight hits in 2 2-3 innings, but the Royals' three-run rally in the
fifth kept him from tying a franchise record with his 10th straight
After Stairs' two-run homer in the fourth got the Royals within
5-2, Alberto Castillo led off the bottom of the fifth with a
double. DeJesus singled, and Castillo scored when starter Jake
Westbrook made a bad throw trying to pick DeJesus off first.
With two outs and one on, Sweeney's hard grounder went between
Blake's legs at third for a two-base error. Stairs followed with a
two-run double to the gap in right center, tying the score at 5.
Westbrook gave up six hits in five innings, striking out two and
walking two. His ERA, second-best in the AL, went from 3.10 to
Kansas City scored more runs Friday night than in its
previous four games combined. The Royals had four runs over that
span. ... Merloni strained his right quadriceps running the bases
after his third-inning single. He left the game and was day-to-day.
... The Royals traded INF Jose Bautista to the New York Mets and
recalled RHP D.J. Carrasco from Triple-A Omaha before Friday
night's game. Kansas City got minor-league C Justin Huber in
exchange for Bautista and assigned him to Omaha. Bautista later was
traded to Pittsburgh.