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KC@CLE: Francoeur's broken-bat single puts Royals up

CLEVELAND -- It wasn't the ideal, clean-cut base hit reminiscent of those on instructional videos or batting highlights.

It was, however, exactly what the Royals needed.

Kansas City felt that once it snapped out of its lengthy losing streak, it would string together a comparable stretch of wins.

Jeff Francoeur's broken-bat single skipped under the glove of a diving Shelley Duncan in left field in the fifth inning, paving the way for more run-scoring hits, and the Royals rolled to a 4-2 victory over the Indians on a foggy Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, their second straight win since breaking out of a 12-game skid.

"That's what happens," skipper Ned Yost said. "That's why those streaks happen. You can't catch a break. You can't find a hole, or they're making great plays, or you're not getting a call from an umpire. There's always something. Don't ask me what it is, but whatever 'it' is, you always get on the good side of it for a while and things work out."

Right-hander Luis Mendoza kept the Indians at bay until his offense got going. For the second straight day, a Royals hurler earned payback against the Indians, who scored 32 runs in a sweep at Kauffman Stadium two weeks ago. Luke Hochevar earned the win in Wednesday's 8-2 victory after surrendering seven runs in four innings in his prior outing against the Tribe.

Mendoza lasted just four frames in a 13-7 loss to the Indians on April 15. In that effort he yielded nine runs (five earned) on nine hits and four walks. He was much sharper on Thursday, allowing just two runs on four hits in five-plus innings, displaying a low-90s fastball with plenty of sinking movement.

"He settled down and made some big pitches when he needed to," Yost said. "He wasn't really in much trouble until the sixth inning. He did a good job. He had better action on his pitches. He was down more. He mixed in his offspeed pitches better."

Mendoza earned his first victory of the season thanks to the series of two-out hits in the fifth. When Francoeur roped a Josh Tomlin cutter to left, all that remained in his hands was the sawed-off handle of his bat. Somehow the ball soared fairly deep into left field and squirted just beyond Duncan's reach.

"When he breaks his bat like that," Tomlin said, "you think probably the only person that's going to be able to make a play on that is either the shortstop or the infielders going back on it. It's going to be a tough play, probably, but Shelley made a good effort at it. He just came up a little bit short."

Alex Gordon scored the go-ahead run before third baseman Mitch Moustakas and catcher Brayan Pena tacked on RBI singles of their own to provide the Royals with a three-run advantage.

Mendoza toed the rubber at the start of the sixth and worked his way into trouble before southpaw reliever Tim Collins bailed him out. The Indians loaded the bases with no outs, but Travis Hafner's sacrifice fly was the only damage incurred.

The Indians placed a runner on third with two outs in the seventh, but first baseman Eric Hosmer made a diving nab of Michael Brantley's line drive to keep the Royals ahead by two. Hosmer demonstrated similar defensive wizardry on another line drive to begin the eighth.

In all, the Royals' bullpen blanked the Tribe over four innings, shutting the door on Kansas City's second win in as many days to conclude the first stop on the club's three-city, nine-game road trip.

"To take two out of three against a Central Division opponent on the road, that's big for us," Gordon said. "We have two more Central Division opponents on the road. Hopefully, we can continue this."

As they try to construct a winning culture, the Royals have preached that taking their lumps and learning from their 12-game losing streak would eventually pay dividends. During the two-week span, they often fell one timely hit or clutch pitching performance shy of reversing their fortunes. Now, two wins removed from that stretch, they are reaping the benefits and enjoying the results.

"We're having fun. It's a lot more fun winning than losing, especially when you lose 12 in a row," Gordon said. "We're enjoying it. We came out today with the goal [of winning] again. We forgot about yesterday and moved on. Just like after a loss, you have to forget about it and try to win the next game, so that's what we did.

"It was frustrating, no doubt. Every guy cares in this clubhouse. We knew we were going to get out of it at some point. It just took longer than we thought." Comments