KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly in the ninth gave the Kansas City Royals a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday night, avoiding a three-game sweep.
The Royals entered the ninth trailing 1-0, but Emmanuel Clase walked the first two batters he faced. MJ Melendez drove home Kyle Isbel with the tying run and Perez drove in Nicky Lopez with the game-winner.
The Guardians still lead the AL Central by two games over the Twins and White Sox
Scott Barlow (6-4) earned the win. Clase (2-4) took the loss. He blew his first save since May 9 and had converted 25 straight opportunities.
“He just lost the plate early and proved he’s human,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Clase. “It’s been a long time since something like that has happened. He tried to fight his way back, but 1-0 is a hard way to win. We walked some other guys too and it finally ended up biting us.”
Zack Greinke allowed one run on six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out two. He returned to the rotation after being on the Injured List since Aug. 24 with right forearm tightness.
“For them to be able to put together at-bats that they did, they made him work,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We always talk about that. Just pass it on to the next guy. Trust the next guy to get the job done. That was a great job against a very difficult closer.”
Cleveland starter Cody Morris, making his second major league start, allowed two hits in the first and then retired nine straight batters on his way to four scoreless innings.
“That was much more what we were looking for,” Francona said. “He was able to use his changeup. Probably could have gone farther. I just thought that with the way the lineup was set up it was a good time to get him out. I thought he did very well.”
Morris was pleased with his effort, once he settled in.
“In the first inning I was still battling some nerves, but I feel like I settled in well,” Morris said. “I felt a lot more relaxed after I got out of that first inning. I felt more in tune and fluid.
“There’s always room for improvement. I haven’t reflected on the start yet, but I’m sure there are pitches I could have executed better.”
The Guardians scored first on an RBI single by Owen Miller. Oscar Gonzalez led off the fourth with a double to the wall in right center. He went to third on a groundout to first and scored when Miller blooped one to short center.
Gonzalez also doubled in the eighth, but was stranded at third. He had a game-winning double in the 10th inning of Monday’s Cleveland victory.
Guardians RHP Aaron Civale, who is on the Injured List with a right wrist strain, threw for the third straight day, increasing the intensity each day. He’ll throw a long-toss on Thursday and a bullpen on Friday, according to manager Terry Francona…RHP Zach Plesac, on the IL with a fracture of his fifth metacarpel bone on his right hand, had another exam, but Francona says there is no timetable for his return.
Both clubs will have Thursday off. The Guardians head to Minnesota for a three-game series with the second-place Twins Friday night. RHP Cal Quantrill (11-5, 3.55 ERA) will start for Cleveland while RHP Dylan Bundy (8-6, 4.34 ERA) will start for the Twins.
The Royals will host the Detroit Tigers for the first of three on Friday. The Tigers will start LHP Joey Wentz (0-1, 8.10 ERA). The Royals have not yet announced a starter.