The Royals took an early 3-0 lead but couldn’t hold it, as the Indians scored six unanswered runs for a 6-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
Darrell Porter led off the top of the second with a home run, his eighth of the year. With one out, Bob Heise singled. Frank White’s single moved Heise to third, and Tom Poquette’s sacrifice fly put Kansas City ahead by three runs.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard pitched a perfect first inning, but was tagged for five hits in the second. Buddy Bell started Cleveland’s rally with a one-out double. John Lowenstein singled, with Bell stopping at third. Bruce Bochte singled to score Bell. Leonard got the second out on Ray Fosse’s popup, but Frank Duffy drove in the second run of the inning with a single. Leonard hit Kuiper with a pitch to load the bases. Jim Norris singled, scoring Bochte to tie the game, although left fielder Hal McRae threw out Duffy at home to end the inning.
Rico Carty broke the 3-3 tie with a solo home run with one out in the fourth. Cleveland took that 4-3 lead into the seventh, when Fosse led off with a double. Duffy bunted him to third, and Kuiper greeted reliever Larry Gura with an RBI single. With two outs, Paul Dade singled. Carty produced an RBI single against new pitcher Mark Littell, giving Cleveland a 6-3 lead.
The Royals missed a golden opportunity to score in the sixth, when Dobson walked Mayberry to start the inning. Cleveland then got a double play when Al Cowens struck out and Mayberry was thrown out trying to steal second. Porter and Cookie Rojas followed that with singles, but reliever Jim Bibby got pinch-hitter Dave Nelson to ground out and end the inning.
Cleveland’s Jim Kern worked two perfect innings after that, then got a double play in the ninth to erase a leadoff walk and end the game.
The Royals fell to 40-36 with the loss. They remained in third place in the AL West, but dropped to four games back of Chicago, as the White Sox swept Minnesota in a doubleheader to move three games ahead of the Twins.
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