KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Terry Francona felt a bit powerless standing in the Cleveland dugout Thursday.
No matter what Indians pitcher was standing on the mound, whether it was starter Ubaldo Jimenez or a parade of relievers, the Kansas City Royals kept drawing walks to start some critical innings.
All those free passes wound up hurting, too.
Lorenzo Cain hit his first career grand slam after two walks and an error in the sixth. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run shot after another walk in the seventh, and pinch-hitter Salvador Perez had the biggest blow, a bases-loaded double in the eighth that boosted the Royals a 10-7 victory.
Of course, the bases were loaded thanks to another leadoff walk.
“We fight back, get a lead, but we ended up walking five or six and hitting a batter and they all scored,” Francona said. “In the sixth, seventh and eighth, we walked the leadoff hitter every inning. We just put ourselves in a tough position.”
The Indians led 5-0 early before Cain’s first career slam and a solo shot by George Kottaras tied it in the sixth. The Indians regained the lead on Carlos Santana’s two-run double in the seventh, but the Royals answered in the bottom half on Hosmer’s home run.
Indians reliever Bryan Shaw (0-2) walked Kottaras to lead off the eighth and then hit Johnny Giavotella. Shaw was lifted for Rich Hill, who promptly walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases.
Perez entered the game as a pinch-hitter and roped a double down the left-field line, slapping his hands together on the way to first as the Royals cleared the bags for a 10-7 lead.
“We didn’t do our job,” said Indians reliever Joe Smith, who served up Hosmer’s homer.
Luke Hochevar (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth inning for the Royals, and Greg Holland worked around a single in the ninth for his second straight save and his 19th on the season.
The Royals scored at least 10 runs for only the fourth time this year — despite only six hits — by taking advantage of eight walks and that costly hit batter by the Indians.
“We feel like we’re over the hump offensively,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, “and any time you can score 10 runs on six hits, you’re slugging.”
Drew Stubbs homered and drove in four runs, and Michael Brantley had four hits and also drove in a run for Cleveland, which had won five straight and pulled into first place in the wide-open AL Central before losing its last two games to the Royals in wild fashion.
Hosmer’s go-ahead shot in the seventh on Wednesday night gave Kansas City a 6-5 victory.
“The character of this offense is we’re not quitting,” Hosmer said. “We told ourselves before, if we’re going to make a run at this, these are big games to make up ground, facing the teams ahead of you in the division. We didn’t want to let this opportunity slip away.”
Things looked good for the Indians at the start Thursday. They took a quick lead on Brantley’s single in the first and then Stubbs made it 3-0 with his homer in the second.
James Shields put the Indians’ leadoff batter on base for the fourth time before Santana singled in the sixth. Aviles added a one-out single and Lonnie Chisenhall walked to load the bases for Stubbs, who delivered a two-run single that made it 5-0 and knocked Shields from the game.
The prize acquisition in a blockbuster trade with Tampa Bay, Shields went 29 consecutive starts of at least six innings before lasting five against the White Sox on June 23. His early ouster on Thursday made it fewer than six in two of his last three starts.
Jimenez had allowed just two hits and kept the Royals in check until the sixth inning, when he led it off by walking his fourth and fifth batters of the game. An error on Jimenez while trying to cover first loaded the bases with nobody out.
Cain came to the plate and hit a 3-2 pitch to center for his first career grand slam, and the second of the series by the Royals. Alex Gordon hit one in Tuesday night’s opener.
Kottaras, getting the start for Perez, added his tying shot to right moments later. It was only his third of the season but the second time Kottaras has been involved in back-to-back home runs: He did it with Dyson on June 23 against the White Sox.
Jason Kipnis, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 15 games, drew a leadoff walk and Brantley singled off Gutierrez in the seventh before Santana’s double made it 7-5.
Hosmer matched both runs in the bottom half with his seventh homer in his last 12 games.
That’s how the game remained until Perez cleared the bases with his double in the eighth, the three RBI boosting the Royals to their seventh straight win in a game Shields has started.
“We’ve been doing a good job of coming back all year. We’re real resilient,” Shields said. “I’m proud of these guys. Hopefully we can get a little string of wins together.”