KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first inning of Corey Kluber’s first major league start was not a memorable one for the Cleveland Indians 26-year-old right-hander.
Kluber gave up six runs and six hits, including two home runs, and walked a batter as the Kansas City Royals sent 10 men to the plate.
The Indians rallied, but lost 7-6 in 11 innings for their sixth straight defeat, their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row from June 19-26, 2010.
“The kid had a rough first inning,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He didn’t throw his good slider. Then he settled down after that. I like what I saw. He can compete. I liked the way he competed. I’m very happy with the way we came back and had a chance to win, but their bullpen held us down.”
Alex Gordon began the Royals’ big first inning with his seventh career leadoff home run. Eric Hosmer’s three-run homer to center was the big blow of the inning and Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson had RBI-singles.
“For some reason he was trying to establish his fastball and cutter,” Acta said. “His swing-and-miss pitch, the good one, is that slider. I don’t understand why he didn’t break that out sooner.”
Kluber, who was 11-7 with a 3.59 ERA with Triple-A Columbus, threw 43 pitches in the first inning.
“When I fell behind I was coming back with fastballs in fastball counts and they were hitting them, and I caught too much of the plate,” Kluber said.
Kluber made it through 4 1/3 innings, giving up no runs and three hits after the first.
“I started using off-speed pitches, sliders more,” Kluber said. “In the first, I didn’t do a good job of keeping them off-balance. The off-speed pitches helped keep them off-balance more.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said Kluber “might have been nervous at the start and things avalanched on him. He really shut us down after that point,” Yost said. “His stuff is good.”
Alcides Escobar’s RBI single with two outs in the 11th inning lifted the Royals to a series sweep.
Escobar’s two-strike hit scored Hosmer, who led off the inning with a single.
Aaron Crow (2-1), the sixth Royals pitcher, worked a spotless 11th inning to pick up the victory.
Reliever Esmil Rogers (1-1), the fifth of six Indians pitchers, took the loss.
Carlos Santana homered and drove in four runs for Cleveland.
Kluber pitched longer than Royals veteran left-hander Bruce Chen, who was yanked after 2 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, seven hits, one walk and two sacrifice flies. In seven starts since July 1, Chen is 0-3 with an 8.73 ERA, allowing 32 runs, 50 hits and 11 walks in 33 innings.
The Indians got a run in the second when Michael Brantley led off with a double and scored on Vinny Rottino’s sacrifice fly.
The Indians cut the lead to 6-4 with a three-run third, which was highlighted by a two-run single by Santana. Brantley drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Santana homered with Brent Lillibridge aboard in the fifth off Everett Teaford, who replaced Chen. Santana hit an 0-2 pitch out to left.
DH Travis Hafner, who is on the paternity list, is scheduled to rejoin the Indians on Saturday at Detroit. Hafner returned to Cleveland to be with his wife Amy, who gave birth to an 8-pound boy.
• RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who is 0-2 since being acquired in a July 20 trade with Colorado, will make his third start for the Royals, on Friday against Texas.
• The Royals scored 18 runs in the first three innings of the three-game series with the Indians.
• Kluber became the seventh pitcher to start for the Indians this season. That ties Seattle for the fewest starters used in the AL. Kansas City has used a league-high 12.
• WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
• TIME: 7:05
• WHERE: Comerica Park
• PITCHERS: Masterson (7-9, 4.47 ERA) vs. Sanchez (0-1, 7.50)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio, MLB; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM