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Royals reach Lee, but slide continues

Royals reach Lee, but slide continues

KANSAS CITY -- Jose Guillen was absolutely stunned. He couldn't believe his long drive did not clear the wall for a game-winning two-run homer.

That's just the way it is for the Royals these days. They lost their 12th straight game on Friday night, 5-4, to the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Like Guillen, the 25,243 fans gasped in disbelief as center fielder Grady Sizemore caught his ninth-inning smash to end the game.

"I don't think I could hit a ball any harder than that," Guillen said. "That's all I got, right there."

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Esteban German had doubled, his drive coming close to the top of the wall. There were two out when Guillen ripped into a fastball from Indians closer Joe Borowski.

"I was all over that pitch," Guillen said. "I caught that right up front. I got it. I said, 'It's over,' and I was just thinking about getting beat up at home plate," Guillen said. "But, oh man, it just really hurt."

Sizemore made the catch on the warning track, then banged into the wall.

"I just got a good jump on it," Sizemore said, "I just wasn't sure how close I was against the wall. I knew I had it. It was one of those plays where I caught it before I hit the wall. I just had to make sure I held on to it."

At that deflating moment, the Royals reached a dirty dozen consecutive losses for the fourth time in club history. They lost 19 straight games in 2005, 13 in 2006 and 12 in 1997. Ah, history.

Some essentials: Sizemore also banged two homers off Royals starter Gil Meche, good for three runs Friday night. Indians left-hander Cliff Lee boosted his record to 8-1 despite giving up four runs on 10 hits. That's because Casey Blake busted a two-run homer off reliever Brett Tomko for a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning.

In a night of exciting baseball and close calls, there was one play that epitomized the Royals' continuing dilemmas in this snake-bitten skid.

Bottom of the sixth, two outs. Joey Gathright and David DeJesus, who each singled, were at second base and first base. German laced a single to right field.

Away flew Gathright, carrying what surely would be the tying run. But wait, DeJesus curled around second base, belatedly saw right fielder Ben Francisco throw to the bag and tried to retreat. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta tagged DeJesus for the third out -- before Gathright reached the plate.

Sorry, no run.

DeJesus made a mistake in manager Trey Hillman's view.

"If you're going to round second base in that situation, you continue on and get in a rundown between third and second," Hillman said.

And so did Gathright.

"Joey's a sprinter. You've got to sprint. Joey turned around and looked at the play. He wasn't lollygagging, it wasn't like he was cruising, but he wasn't going elbows and rear ends like he's got to on that play."

Both acknowledged their indiscretions.

"It was just kind of a mental error on both of us," Gathright said. "I was running hard, but when I saw [Francisco] wasn't coming home, I slowed down a little bit. So that gave them time to tag David, and I couldn't score. It's just a mental error."

The Royals had another near-miss in the seventh inning. Guillen, who doubled, was at second base with two outs when Mark Teahen drilled a line drive to right-center. Franklin Gutierrez, who'd just entered the game as a pinch-hitter, dove for a run-saving catch.

Sorry, no run.

It was a night of might-have-beens. John Buck, who had two RBI doubles, just missed a three-run homer in the second when his drive hit high off the right-field wall. German came close to a game-tying blast in the ninth. And then there was Guillen's clout.

"In left-center, it seems like the ball doesn't go anywhere," Guillen said. "I don't think I can hit a ball any harder than that."

Somehow a Bermuda Triangle is hovering over left-center field. That's the way it is these dreary nights for the Royals.

"I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight, just thinking about it," Guillen said.

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

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