KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Scott Kazmir pitched much better than he did in his first start of the season and still ended up with a loss.
Ervin Santana pitched seven scoreless innings, Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer and the Kansas City Royals held on to beat Kazmir and the Cleveland Indians 3-2 Saturday night.
Santana (3-1), who was acquired in an Oct. 31 trade with Anaheim for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk, allowed six singles, struck out five and walked none.
Greg Holland, who logged his sixth save in seven opportunities, gave up two unearned runs in the ninth when Mark Reynolds and Lonnie Chisenhall scored on Michael Brantley's two-out triple. Reynolds hit an infield single and Chisenhall reached on Eric Hosmer's error. Holland struck out Jason Kipnis to end the game.
The Indians have scored three runs or less in eight of their past 10 games and 13 times this season, going 3-10 in those games.
Kazmir (0-1), who was making his second big league start in two years, was charged with the loss. He gave up two runs on five hits, while striking out four and walking two. In his previous start, the Indians scored 19 runs and were ahead 14-0 going into the bottom of the second at Houston, but Kazmir failed to get out of the fourth inning, giving up six runs on eight hits, including two homers.
``It was better after the third inning,' Kazmir said. ``I was able to attack the strike zone better. The first couple of innings, I threw a lot of pitches. I was struggling with location a lot. I was able to use my fastball more and work off that and get deeper in the game.
Kazmir, a two-time American League All-Star selection while with Tampa Bay, pitched last season with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League and signed a minor league contact with the Indians in January. He won a slot in the Cleveland rotation after a strong spring.
``He threw the ball well,' Reynolds said. ``The balls were jumping out of his hand. He pitched well, threw strikes and kept us in the game.'
Kazmir threw 99 pitches, 66 for strikes, in five innings, getting his pitch count up and prompting manager Terry Francona to go to his bullpen.
``He'd gotten to a point where he was near 100 pitches and they had a bunch of righties coming up; it seemed to make sense,' Francona said.
Perez homered just inside the right-field foul pole in the second inning on an 0-1 pitch after Kazmir walked Jeff Francoeur.
The Indians had five base runners in the second and third innings, but failed to score.
Drew Stubbs, Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera singled in the third, loading the bases with one out. Nick Swisher grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Swisher led off the second with a single and Carlos Santana reached on a Miguel Tejada error. Ervin Santana struck out Reynolds and Chisenhall to end the threat.
The Indians used five relief pitchers in the seventh when the Royals added a run. Alex Gordon's two-out single was the only hit. The inning included Bryan Shaw walking the only two batters he faced and Rich Hill walking Eric Hosmer, the only batter he faced, with the bases loaded to score Gordon.
Herrera replaced Santana and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Brantley to lead off the eighth. Brantley went to third on a wild pitch, but was stranded
NOTES: The Royals will call up LHP Will Smith from Triple-A Omaha on Sunday as the 26th man for the day-night doubleheader with the Indians and he will start the second game. Smith went 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four Pacific Coast League starts. ... RHP Corey Kluber will make his first start of the season in the nightcap for the Indians. He was rained out of his previous two starts. ... RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who starts the opener, is 7-0 in his past 15 starts, dating to Aug. 8. LHP Paul Splittorff holds the Royals' record with 16 consecutive undefeated starts in 1977-78.
The Associated Press News Service
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