CLEVELAND (AP) - Kansas City's fast start has faded just as quickly. The Royals are right back where they started the season - at .500.
Their fifth straight loss, 7-2 to the Cleveland Indians left them at 12-12, a disappointing drop for a young team that opened 10-4 and hopes to post its first winning season since 2003 and only its second since moving to the AL Central 18 years ago.
``You don't want to get to 12-12 the way we did,' manager Ned Yost said after the club's eighth loss in 10 games. ``We're going through a tough stretch and we just have to grind our way through it.'
Orlando Cabrera's three-run double in a five-run first inning off Jeff Francis (0-3) helped the division-leading Indians to their ninth straight home win. It was all the support Josh Tomlin (4-0) needed.
``Cleveland is pitching very well,' said Alex Gordon, who went 0-for-3 to snap his 19-game hitting streak for Kansas City.
The Royals have allowed nearly eight runs a game during their slide and have been outscored 38-20 during the streak. It all started with an 11-6 loss at Texas.
``We need to settle the pitching down,' Yost said. ``It just wasn't Jeff's night. He was battling it right from the start and a lot of their hits were just finding the right holes.'
Francis made no excuses after yielding six singles and Cabrera's double in a 39-pitch first inning.
``I left some balls up and they hit them,' the left-hander said. ``The odd time I made a pitch, they hit those, too. It was not just bad luck. I feel I can execute better.'
Every player in Cleveland's starting lineup got at least one hit as the Indians continued their early season trend of getting ahead quickly.
Francis retired Grady Sizemore leading off on a nice play by Gordon, moved from left field to first base for the first time this season. He then gave up four straight singles, the last an RBI blooper by Travis Hafner. Cabrera followed with his three-run double, which center fielder Jarrod Dyson narrowly missed with a diving try in the gap in left-center. One out later, Jack Hannahan's single made it 5-0.
The Royals cut it to 5-2 in the second on homers by Jeff Francoeur and Mike Aviles. Francoeur's leadoff shot into the left-field bleachers extended his hitting streak to 16 games, tying his career-best.
Kansas City's hitters didn't threaten again against Tomlin, who doesn't have overpowering stuff but throws strikes and knows how to get outs. Of his 100 pitches, only 27 were out of the strike zone.
The Indians tacked on an unearned run in the third to make it 6-2 and added another in the sixth on a passed ball.
Francis gave up a leadoff double in the fourth, and the 30-year-old, signed as a free agent in January after six seasons with Colorado, was pulled. Francis allowed five runs and 10 hits in three innings and dropped to 0-6 in 11 starts since July 30.
NOTES: Gordon hit .383 (31 of 81) with 15 RBIs during his career-best hitting streak. ... Francoeur is batting .367 (22 of 60) with four homers and 15 RBIs during his streak. ... Longtime fan John Adams, who has been pounding a large bass drum in the outfield bleachers at Indians games since the 1970s, attended his 3,000th game. ... The Royals and Indians are the respective second and third youngest teams in the majors. Kansas City's average age on its 40-man roster is 26.73, and Cleveland is tied with Florida at 27.03. ... Aviles' homer gave him 14 hits, 10 for extra bases. ... With Tomlin at 4-0 and Justin Masterson at 5-0, the Indians have two pitchers with at least 4-0 records since Greg Swindell and Tom Candiotti did it in 1988.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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