Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa's newfound mastery of control deserted him. In the first two innings, he walked four batters and hit one.
Mix in a home run by Jason Michaels and three singles and, no surprise, the Indians jumped ahead 6-0 early. Michaels' three-run blast capped a five-run first inning.
"We were in a hole, like six, seven to nothing," Royals captain Mike Sweeney said.
In the first two games of the series, the Royals also fell behind in the first inning -- 2-0 on Tuesday and 3-0 on Wednesday. But they came back and pounced on the Indians. Not this time.
"We did no pouncing," Sweeney said.
Their pounciness was flattened considerably in their half of the first, when David DeJesus was called out at first base for a double play. Manager Buddy Bell was so fumed that he disregarded his recent knee surgery and limped out to argue the call with umpire Tony Randazzo.
De La Rosa expended 53 pitches in the first two innings, and by departure time in the fifth, he'd walked seven. Funny, he arrived at the stadium with the American League's seventh-lowest walk ratio -- just 1.9 per nine innings.
OK, not so funny for Royals fans. Four of those walks turned into runs. Reliever Joel Peralta caught the fever, issuing a bases-loaded walk before Casey Blake sliced a three-run triple.
De La Rosa was charged with nine runs, most in his career.
"That happens when you don't throw strikes," he said.
Bell doubted that De La Rosa got much help from home-plate umpire Greg Gibson.
"I think a couple of calls upset him, and he lost his composure," Bell said. "It might have ended up the same way, but it didn't help from my perspective."
Catcher John Buck tried to shepherd the wayward De La Rosa through the wilderness.
Said Buck: "He was trying to do a little too much for whatever reason, trying to throw the unhittable pitch."
Indians lefty Jeremy Sowers tamed a Royals offense that had scored 26 runs in winning the previous three games. Sowers worked seven innings, gave up six singles and earned his first victory in nine starts.
"When your team scores that many runs for you, especially early, it's important to go out in the first inning and put up a goose egg," Sowers said.
In fact, he accomplished that in each of his innings except the third, when Tony Pena singled and scored on Mark Grudzielanek's sacrifice fly.
Other than that, the Royals couldn't dent Sowers. Rookie Alex Gordon's hitting streak ended at six games, even though he drilled three balls hard against Sowers.
"A lot of guys did that," Gordon said. "It's part of the game. Sometimes they don't fall."
Except for Esteban German, who went 4-for-5 as the Royals' leadoff batter, raising his average to .301.
His single off the foot of reliever Roberto Hernandez started a Royals flurry in the eighth inning. DeJesus singled, and so did pinch-hitter Shane Costa, scoring German and inciting hope.
Hernandez walked the bases full after two outs, and reliever Aaron Fultz arrived to walk Ryan Shealy for another run. But the rally attempt stopped when Buck lined out.
The Indians stayed one-half game behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central race, and they kept the Royals' broom in the closet.