CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Indians can't seem to catch a break right now, but they will gladly take one provided by the schedule.
Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez, who couldn't hold a 3-0 lead, allowed five runs in five innings on Wednesday afternoon, and the Kansas City Royals rallied for a 6-3 victory at Progressive Field.
Cleveland lost for the fifth time in its last six games and dropped 1 1-2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. The Indians host Minnesota in a three-game series beginning Friday, giving them one much-needed day off to regroup.
``The day off comes at a perfect time,' said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose team led the division from April 24-May 28. ``We all need to go home and relax, and come back and play better baseball on Friday. This was not a good series. The week continues to be rough for us.'
It has been rough, both on and off the field, as the Indians placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a frayed right meniscus. Athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said the 34-year-old slugger will have arthroscopic surgery Thursday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Earlier in the week, Cleveland lost catcher Carlos Santana (concussion) to the 7-day DL and has been without backup catcher Lou Marson (stitches in mouth) since Sunday, when he was hit in the face by a Gavin Floyd pitch in Chicago.
Acta said no timetable has been set for Santana's return. Santana is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday, but has been limited to cardio work. Marson could be back for the series opener against the Twins. He will undergo a laser procedure Thursday to remove extra skin inside his mouth, which Acta said should expedite his healing process.
``It really hurts our lineup to be without Hafner and Santana, but we can't just throw our arms up about it,' Acta said. ``We have to move forward. Unless we make a (roster) move, we can rotate through some guys until they come back.'
Acta said everyone currently in the lineup at Triple-A Columbus is an option to be called up. First baseman Matt LaPorta and third baseman Russ Canzler appear to be the leading candidates.
Acta has spent the last week scrambling to field a lineup. Asdrubal Cabrera played shortstop for the first time in a week Wednesday and was 1 for 4 with a walk. He was the DH on Tuesday after missing four games with a strained hamstring. Third baseman Jack Hannahan, who missed 11 games with a back injury, returned for one game but strained his calf and is on the 15-day DL.
Acta knows he will be without Hafner, the Indians' cleanup hitter, until at least early July.
``The big guy, he's a presence in our lineup,' Acta said. ``I'm not going to tell you we're a better team without him.'
Hafner is batting .242 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 39 games.
The Indians went up 3-0 in the second on run-scoring singles by Casey Kotchman and Shin-Soo Choo, along with an RBI fielder's choice by recently promoted catcher Luke Carlin.
Gomez (3-4) promptly squandered the lead by allowing two runs in the third, two more in the fourth and one in the fifth - all with two outs - to give Kansas City a 5-3 lead. The right-hander went five innings, allowing 10 hits while striking out three.
The Royals scored the go-ahead run on Johnny Giavotella's single in the fourth, bringing Alcides Escobar home from third base.
``I got two outs quickly, but I couldn't get the third one today,' Gomez said. ``I threw a lot of strikes, but I gave up a lot of hits.'
Royals starter Bruce Chen (4-5) earned the win with five innings of work, improving to 6-3 in his career against Cleveland. The lefty allowed three runs on seven hits and got stronger as the game went on.
The Indians failed to score off Kansas City relievers Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Jose Mijares and Jonathan Broxton in the final four frames. Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Broxton, but the closer earned his 11th save when Jose Lopez grounded into a game-ending double play.
``I tried to hit the first pitch fastball,' said Lopez, batting cleanup in Hafner's absence. ``I try to do my job. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.'
Center fielder Michael Brantley and designated hitter Johnny Damon had two hits apiece for Cleveland. Damon's first hit moved him past Goose Goslin into 54th place all-time with 2,736 hits.
Catcher Brayan Pena led Kansas City with three hits, while Alex Gordon, Jeff Francoeur and Giavotella each had two. The Royals are 18-14 since losing 12 straight games from April 11-24.
Indians left-hander Scott Barnes made his major league debut, replacing Gomez to start the sixth. He pitched a scoreless inning despite walking two and hitting a batter. Barnes was called up from Columbus before the game.
NOTES: Struggling Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who has been bothered by cramping in his left side, won't make his next start until Tuesday at Detroit. He's 5-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts. He experienced the cramping in his last appearance against the White Sox on Sunday. ... Carlin's RBI was his first in the majors since Oct. 3, 2010 against Chicago. He also stole his first career base in the second inning. ... Choo is batting .306 (19 for 62) since being moved into the leadoff spot on May 14. ... The Indians host Minnesota Friday and RHP Derek Lowe will face the Twins.
The Associated Press News Service
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