After 13 days of winless frustration, the Royals can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. Stout pitching and opportunistic offense proved to be the magic formula on Saturday night as Kansas City held off Cleveland, 4-2, to snap a 12-game losing streak.
Finally, the Royals could exchange high-fives and enjoy the clubhouse aftermath.
From Boston to Toronto to Kauffman Stadium, it seemed that virtually everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Royals over a two-week span. But with starter Kyle Davies hanging tough in his first Major League start of the season and David DeJesus finding some sweet redemption following a costly baserunning gaffe Friday, the Royals managed to reward themselves and Saturday's supportive crowd of 23,923.
Perhaps no one in the winning clubhouse was happier than DeJesus, who atoned impressively for his mental mistake on the bases that had loomed large in a 5-4 loss the previous night.
On Saturday, DeJesus got to Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia for a homer to right, a double to left and two RBIs.
The Indians had taken a 1-0 lead in the third, but DeJesus sparked the Kansas City offense with his shot over the right-field wall that made it 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. It was the start of something big for the Royals, who then zoomed ahead with a three-run rally in the fifth.
"I felt like I messed up a game yesterday, so it definitely helps out that I was able to come up with some key hits [tonight]," DeJesus said. "But [this one] was a team win. Our pitching and defense were good, and we were able to take advantage of some opportunities against a tough pitcher."
The Royals, who left only two runners on base, peppered Sabathia with some timely hits in the decisive fifth. After Mark Teahen legged out an infield single leading off, John Buck doubled to left-center. Esteban German fanned, but Joey Gathright drove in the go-ahead run with a groundout.
Then came the two-out RBI hits that had been eluding the Royals so often during the losing streak.
DeJesus made it 3-1 with a double to left and Mark Grudzielanek -- returning to the lineup after missing three games with a sore back -- singled home another with a grounder through the left side.
The offense didn't do much thereafter, but the pitching held up late after Davies needed 100 pitches to get through five innings.
"I was pleased with what we did," manager Trey Hillman said. "We had some big two-out hits. Kyle was out of pitches after the fifth, but he did a real good job of mixing and matching and battled through a couple of walks."
Royals fans might have had the déjà vu feeling in the eighth when, with one on and one out, Casey Blake's popup dropped in short left-center. The ball fell from shortstop Tony Pena's glove as he raced out with his back to the infield. Hillman said the problem was a communication breakdown that prevented center fielder Gathright from taking charge.
But the Royals had reliable closer Joakim Soria on the mound at that juncture, and he was able to escape the inning with just one run scoring. Then Soria finished the job in the ninth for a rare six-out save, and the crowd gave the Royals a noisy salute when Pena threw out Jhonny Peralta for the streak-bursting final out.
"I waited for maybe five seconds before I took a deep breath," Hillman said. "It was a big relief."
Davies had hoped for more innings in his 2008 Major League debut, but the bottom line was that he held the Indians to just one run and left with a three-run lead.
"We won, so it doesn't matter," Davies said. "You go out there to give your team a chance to win the ballgame."
Relievers Ron Mahay and Joel Peralta bridged the gap between Davies and Soria. Peralta rebounded nicely from a nightmarish Wednesday, when he had allowed a game-tying homer in the ninth to Minnesota's Craig Monroe and a game-winning homer to Justin Morneau in the 10th.
The losing streak is history, and it came against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner in Sabathia, a pitcher who has long tormented the Royals.
"I don't care if it was against Billy Bob Buck," Hillman said. "It would be sweet against anybody after 12 in a row."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.