CLEVELAND – Indians fans got exactly what they had been hoping for Saturday night: A big win and a big trade.
First baseman Matt LaPorta hit a three-run, walk-off homer with two out in the ninth inning, giving the Tribe a 5-2 come-from-behind win over the Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Chris Getz, but closer Joakim Soria allowed a game-tying sacrifice fly to Kosuke Fukudome and LaPorta’s game-winning blast.
“We’ve had a lot of big hits this season, but for me, this is at the top,” said a smiling LaPorta, who drilled Soria’s pitch off the facing of the home run porch in left field.
Cleveland (53-51), which agreed to acquire Colorado pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in a five-player deal earlier in the evening, snapped a three-game losing streak in front of 31,436 fans at Progressive Field.
The Indians also moved within 1½ games of Detroit in the American League Central Division and pulled off their 12th walk-off win of the season.
“I don’t know why we have to wait until the ninth inning every time,” Tribe manager Manny Acta said. “It’s tough on all of us. Tomorrow, I think I’ll put the (ninth-inning sign) on the scoreboard to start the game and see if it makes a difference.”
Cleveland actually came back twice in the final two innings, first tying the score at 1 in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Michael Brantley. That hit came off Kansas City setup man Aaron Crow, who took over after Tim Collins surrendered a leadoff walk to Lonnie Chisenhall.
Soria (5-4, 4.23 ERA) completed the meltdown in the ninth with his sixth blown save of the season. He hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch, allowed a double by Carlos Santana, and walked Chisenhall, in addition to the run-scoring swings by Fukudome and LaPorta.
“We had some great at-bats at the end of the game against Soria,” Acta said.
Tony Sipp (6-2, 3.00 ERA) earned the win despite allowing one run in his one inning. Starter Justin Masterson went the first eight-plus, allowing nine hits and two runs while striking out five.
Masterson came out for the ninth, but was lifted after allowing a leadoff single to Jeff Francoeur, who scored on Getz’s hit.
“Justin deserved better tonight, which is why I’m so happy that he didn’t get stuck with the loss,” Acta said. “If he had gotten Francoeur out, we probably would have left him in because he was fresh.”
On the flipside, the Royals’ bullpen ruined a terrific outing by Felipe Paulino, who didn’t allow a hit until Santana doubled in the fifth. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings, only allowing one runner to reach third base.
“My goal was just to keep it close tonight because we have a good team here and we find a way to win,” Masterson said.
Kansas City went up 1-0 in the first on an RBI groundout by Eric Hosmer. It could have been worse, though, as Masterson allowed a leadoff walk to Alex Gordon and a double to Melky Cabrera before limiting the damage.
The Indians had a golden opportunity to tie the score in the sixth, but Gordon gunned down LaPorta at home on a fly ball to left by Brantley.
Kansas City catcher Matt Treanor suffered a concussion on the play – with his head absorbing a significant blow from LaPorta’s right shoulder – but held onto the ball in the collision.
Treanor was placed on the seven-day disabled list by the Royals before he left the stadium for medical tests.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.
• WHO: Cleveland vs. Kansas City
• TIME: 1:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Carmona (5-10, 5.34 ERA) vs. Davies (1-9, 6.75)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM