Royals fend off Sabathia, Tribe

Royals fend off Sabathia, Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Gil Meche survived with his back intact. Mark Teahen avoided breaking his ankle. Octavio Dotel wiggled out of a tough spot.

Call it a Saturday night of great escapes for the Royals, who held on to defeat the Cleveland Indians and old nemesis C.C. Sabathia, 6-5, in front of 31,599 fans at Jacobs Field.

At first, such a tough grind didn't seem to be shaping up. When Emil Brown's high fly carried over the right-field wall for a three-run homer, the Royals were ahead of Sabathia, 5-0, in the third inning.

"Any time you can get to [Sabathia] is good -- early or late. He's tough," Brown said. "Five runs off him is a bonus."

For all the early thrust against Sabathia -- Billy Butler banged a two-run double in the first inning -- it was an odd, dinky play that gave the Royals the deciding run.

Teahen led off the seventh with a double, his third hit off Sabathia. Then Butler hit a bouncer that was fielded by third baseman Casey Blake. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta scooted to cover third base, yelling, "Three! Three! Three!"

Blake listened. But his off-balance throw skittered past Peralta, and Teahen, after twisting his way around the bag, trotted home to score on the error for a 6-4 lead.

"I was just glad I didn't break my ankle," Teahen said.

The play also reminded him of something.

"I've only seen two plays where the third baseman throws to third. And the other one was me and I threw just as bad," Teahen said. "If they make the play, it's a great play, but the chances are pretty slim there."

The victory went to Gil Meche, who lasted just five-plus innings, threw 100 pitches and admittedly was gassed.

"Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with me," Meche said. "My last two outings, the first three innings I've thrown the ball as well as I could throw it. Then, all of a sudden, I'm getting lost for some reason."

At least he didn't get drilled badly by Ryan Garko's sizzling line drive in the fourth inning.

"It got the back of my tricep," Meche said. "Thank God it didn't hit me hard because it was coming and I had no chance to react."

It just nicked Meche and was the second ball that hit him during the game. Josh Barfield's single got him in the third inning.

"The one that hurt was off my foot from Barfield. I thought it was going to bounce and it stayed down and it hit me right on the bone," Meche said.

Meche was finally pulled in the sixth when, after Peralta's leadoff single, Garko lofted a home run into the left-field seats. But the bullpen was solid again.

Dotel, the Royals' closer, was summoned for the ninth and he struck out Barfield. Grady Sizemore's drive into the left-field corner, though, eluded Brown.

"It hit my glove and I kind of collided with the wall, too," Brown said. "It was actually in my glove for a second."

Sizemore had a double. Blake flied out and that brought up the dangerous Victor Martinez.

"To be honest, I get pumped up with good hitters. Why, I don't know. I should be like that with anyone I'm facing, but with tough hitters I want to challenge them and I want to win against them," Dotel said.

He won when Martinez hit a hard liner, but right to Brown.

This was only the Royals' fourth victory in 14 games over the last two years at Jacobs Field. It's been a tough place for any team; the Indians are 30-12 at Jacobs this season.

"It seems like they've always got a chance to get back in the game," Brown said.

Not this time, though. The Royals made a great escape.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.