KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For a few tense moments, Kerry Wood and the Cleveland Indians seemed destined to relive the agony of the night before.
Then he found his cutter. Then he located his breaking ball. And after walking the bases full in the ninth, the Cleveland closer struck out Mark Teahen and David DeJesus to end the game and preserve a 6-5 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday night.
“Last night was tough to swallow,” Wood said. “It`s got to be over. I`m going to be out there and I`ve got to be focused on getting the guys out tonight. It`s not always easy to do, but you`ve got to be able to get (the bad memory) out of there.”
As he trotted in from the bullpen to start the ninth, the big scoreboard at his back replayed the ninth inning of the night before when he gave up two home runs, a walk, a triple and a sacrifice fly that turned a 5-2 lead into a nightmarish 6-5 loss.
“The scoreboard was at my back,” he said, grinning.
Mark DeRosa had three hits and drove in the tiebreaking run in the eighth for the Indians, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the sort of win that manager Eric Wedge hopes can ignite his slumping team.
“After such an emotional loss last night, to be able to come back and fight back from behind, it says a lot about our guys,” Wedge said. “They keep getting up off the mat.”
As Wood threw ball after ball, Wedge did get somebody else throwing in the bullpen just in case. But then suddenly Wood regained command of his breaking pitches.
“I`m just glad I was able to find it before it was too late,” Wood said. “I didn`t start out the inning the way I wanted to start, but I finished it the way I wanted to finish.”
In the other dugout, Royals manager Trey Hillman saw what Wedge was seeing.
“He found it after he loaded the bases,” Hillman said. “I felt like we were patient in spots and then after he got the bases loaded he threw some really good pitches.”
Wedge said he never actually came close to pulling Wood.
“I think it tells you a lot about the guy,” Wedge said. “For him to dig deep like that and find it. It says a lot about his toughness and his ability to keep his emotions under control.”
DeRosa`s RBI double off Sidney Ponson (1-5) scored pinch-runner Matt LaPorta in the eighth, and Ben Francisco followed with an RBI single for a 6-4 lead.
DeJesus` RBI single made it 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth, but Rafael Betancourt relieved Aaron Laffey and struck out Mike Aviles and Coco Crisp to end the inning.
Victor Martinez was 2-for-5 and kept his major league-leading average at .400 for the Indians.
Laffey (3-0), who beat the Royals here as a starter on April 14, went 11/3 innings in relief of Fausto Carmona. Ponson was charged with two hits and two runs in 11/3 innings.
Billy Butler`s RBI single put the Royals on top 1-0 in the third, then Jose Guillen had a two-run double. The Royals got their fourth run in the fourth when Aviles moved to third and then came home on Carmona`s two wild pitches.
Shin-Soo Choo followed Martinez`s one-out double with an RBI single in the Cleveland fourth and came home on Jhonny Peralta`s RBI single to make it 4-2, which was where it stood when Jamey Wright relieved starter Gil Meche starting the seventh.
WHO: Cleveland at Kansas City
TIME: 2:10 p.m.
WHERE: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
PITCHERS: Pavano (3-4, 6.33 ERA) vs. Greinke (7-1, 0.60)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM