Wood unable to preserve Lee's lead
Indians fall as Royals rally for four in ninth inning
KANSAS CITY -- You could sense the disappointment in the eyes of manager Eric Wedge. His Indians have been battered and bruised all season long.
Monday was another bitter night.
Behind a solid performance from starter Cliff Lee, Cleveland took a 5-2 lead into the ninth inning. But after the Tribe's eight innings of winning baseball behind Lee, closer Kerry Wood took the mound and the Indians fell underneath a blur of Kansas City homers and extra-base hits.
When the inning was done and the Royals flooded onto the field to celebrate, the Indians had lost their fourth game in a row, a deflating 6-5 walk-off loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
"It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up," said Wedge, after his club had fallen to 14-26 in 2009 and 7-15 on the road.
The outcome seemed improbable at the end of the eighth inning. Lee had allowed just two runs on eight hits. And the Indians' offense had finally brought Lee some support.
Cleveland had totaled just six runs in Lee's previous five outings. But that changed Monday as the Tribe scraped together runs in the first and fourth and took a 5-1 lead into the sixth.
Leading, 3-1, Kelly Shoppach sent a 3-2 pitch from Royals starter Brian Bannister 403 feet into the bleachers in left-center. The two-run blast also scored rookie Matt LaPorta.
But Kansas City added a run off Lee in the sixth, cutting the lead to 5-2 and setting up the dramatic ninth.
Wood, who hadn't had a save situation since May 1, entered, faced six batters, gave up four runs, and the Indians' bitter 2009 continued.
"He's the guy you were going to," said Wedge, after Wood's second blown save of the year. "That's the reason he's here. A three-run lead in the ninth inning is the best situation for any closer."
The ninth inning began with a harmless groundout by Jose Guillen. But Mike Jacobs awoke the Royals' offense with a long home run to right field on a 3-2 pitch. Mark Teahen followed Jacobs with a first-pitch homer to left, and Wood compounded his problems by walking Miguel Olivo. David DeJesus tied the game by scoring pinch-runner Mitch Maier with a triple into the right-field gap. Willie Bloomquist completed the comeback with a sacrifice fly to right field, handing Wood the loss.
"I threw some breaking balls, but they weren't very good," Wood said. "So they were sitting pretty much fastball, and that's what happens when you don't have a second pitch."
It was a short outing for Wood, but it was another long night for the Indians' bullpen, which has now allowed four or more runs in a single inning 17 times this season. The Tribe's bullpen has also given up 24 home runs.
"It's tough for Cliffy to come out and pitch that way again, and for us to not pick him up again," Wood said.
Lee, who went 5-0 against the Royals in 2008, wasn't dominant, but he stayed in control throughout.
"I felt good," Lee said. [I] was locating fastballs, and I felt like I had a pretty good changeup tonight. Hopefully I can carry it over to my next start."
And he'll also hope that the Indians can provide the offense that they did on Monday.
It took the Indians three batters and about 10 minutes to take the lead in the first inning. Asdrubal Cabrera led off the game with a double to left and moved over to third on a long fly ball from Grady Sizemore. Victor Martinez, who entered the game hitting .401 and ended it hitting .400, scored Cabrera on a base hit to left.
The Indians added another run in the fourth before scoring three in the sixth.
Cleveland tagged Bannister for five runs in sixth innings, but somehow both Lee and Bannister had to settle for no-decisions after the Royals' ninth-inning rally.
"Tonight it didn't go as planned, but 99 percent of the time, that game's over right there," Lee said.
Instead, the Indians fell 8 1/2 games behind first place Detroit and 7 1/2 games behind second-place Kansas City.
Still, it's only the middle of May, and considering the Indians' rough start, Lee points out his team has plenty of time to make up ground.
"We're really not that far out of it," Lee said.
And through the disappointment of another loss, Wedge voiced the Indians' 2009 rallying cry. It's time to get up -- again.
"They got up again today after a tough series in [St. Petersburg], you know, played some very good baseball," Wedge said. "And we just weren't able to hold on in the end. We got the baseball to the guy that we work every day to get the baseball too, [it] just wasn't in our favor today."
Wedge paused for a moment.
"These guys," he said, "will keep getting up."
Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.