For seven-plus innings Thursday night, the visiting Cleveland Indians looked unbeatable and the Kansas City Royals' hitters seemed allergic to the steady mist that fell through much of the proceedings, but in the end the Royals scored twice in the bottom of the ninth on Melky Cabrera's bases-loaded single, winning 3-2 and gaining a split of the four-game series between the AL Central's frontrunners.
For a while it didn't look like either team would ever score, as Cleveland's Josh Tomlin and Kansas City's Sean O'Sullivan matched zeroes through four innings. In the fifth inning, though, the Indians put together two singles, two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice grounder to plate a couple of runs.
And for those seven-plus innings, it looked like a couple of runs was all Tomlin would need. Making his fourth start of the season, Tomlin entered Thursday's game with three wins and a 2.75 ERA, and through seven shutout innings he limited the Royals to five hits and no walks.
In the eighth, Tomlin retired leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar on a ground ball, but walked Chris Getz with his 91st pitch. That brought Indians manager Manny Acta out of the dugout, and he summoned reliever Tony Sipp from the bullpen. Four batters and one relief pitcher later, Alex Gordon's ground ball up the middle didn't escape the infield, but was enough to score Getz from third base with the Royals' first run. Vinny Pestano did retire Wilson Betemit to prevent further damage.
In the top of the ninth, rookie Aaron Crow worked around Grady Sizemore's two-out double -- Sizemore's now batting .421 in five games since coming off the Disabled List -- to leave the Royals just one run down going into the bottom of the ninth.
Indians closer Chris Perez came on for the ninth, having converted all six of his save opportunities this season. Kila Ka'ahuie, batting well below the Mendoza Line, greeted Perez with a double to left-center. Pinch-hitter Mike Maier followed with a line-drive single to center field that almost got past Sizemore and sent pinch-runner Mike Aviles to third base. After a fielder's choice that resulted in Aviles being out at the plate by plenty, Chris Getz walked to load the bases.
That brought up Melky Cabrera, who fell behind 0-and-2 before driving a single into left field, with Maier scoring from third and Alcides Escobar easily scoring the winning run from second base.