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VonneMarie
04-15-2003, 02:01 AM
Royals bounce back from loss, clobber Cleveland
By DICK KAEGEL
The Kansas City Star

CLEVELAND - Are the Royals resilient? You bet.

After their season-opening, nine-game winning streak ended, the Royals bounced back Monday night and crushed the Cleveland Indians 12-4 at Jacobs Field.

The Royals' 10-1 record is the best in the American League, and they lead the Chicago White Sox by 31/2 games in the Central Division.

First baseman Mike Sweeney, back in the lineup after missing two games, drove in four runs with a bases-clearing double and a solo home run.

"Usually we come into Jacobs Field and this place feels haunted," Sweeney said. "The seventh inning comes around and it's like, `Oh, here we go again.' But this year it's a different story."

Is it ever. The Royals took three of four from Cleveland for their best 11-game start in history. The previous best was 9-2 in 1975 and 1978.

The Royals' streak had ended Sunday in a 6-1 loss to the Indians.

"It was nice to see the boys come back right away," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "I could see the intensity. This game was like opening day for this team. Everybody was upbeat."

The Royals also got solo home runs from Ken Harvey, Brent Mayne and Michael Tucker. Carlos Febles had three hits and knocked in three runs.

"Personally, I wanted to see how we were going to react," said Harvey, who blasted his first career homer in the second inning. "See what kind of a team we have."

A pretty good one on this night, with 15 hits -- and a rousing defense.

Febles and shortstop Angel Berroa were in the middle of four double plays that helped quell the Indians. Right fielder Brandon Berger made a diving catch for the final out in the sixth.

"That's what this thing is all about -- our pitching and our defense," Febles said. "We should be proud of the way we approach defense."

Royals starter Jeremy Affeldt, after Harvey and Mayne launched their homers, fell behind 3-2 in the third inning. He squandered a double-play chance with a wild throw past Berroa that kept the inning going.

In the fifth, the Royals loaded the bases on Berroa's double, Tucker's single and a walk to Randa. Left-hander Brian Anderson had two outs, but Sweeney sent a drive off the top of the left-field wall. All three runners scampered home for a 5-3 lead.

"It's just a matter that we don't give up. We battle," Affeldt said.

Affeldt went five innings in his second victory. He was lifted after 93 pitches.

"He just ran out of gas -- too many pitches," Pena said.

So rookie D.J. Carrasco worked two innings, finally giving up his first hit -- a solo homer to Milton Bradley. Jason Grimsley and Ryan Bukvich finished, each with a scoreless inning.

Meanwhile, the Royals kept piling on runs. Tucker homered in the seventh. Febles belted a two-run single with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Then Sweeney's leadoff homer ignited a four-run ninth. Before Sweeney's double in the fifth, he'd been just one for 17.

There was also some carryover from the bad blood that boiled in Sunday's game when the umpires had to squelch a budding beanball battle and avert a possible brawl.

Tucker, a central figure in Sunday's unpleasantness, was drilled by a pitch in the eighth inning Monday night. There was a new crew of umpires, but they were obviously aware of the situation. When the Indians' Carl Sadler plunked Tucker, plate umpire Jerry Crawford promptly ejected Sadler.

That brought howls from Indians manager Eric Wedge, who was also ejected.

"The series is over, and we're going to Chicago," Tucker said. "I'm not even going to comment on that.... But when you're that far off the plate...oh, well."

Harvey was also hit by a pitch, but Pena shrugged off the incidents.

"My boys got hit and went straight to the base," Pena said. "We didn't come to fight, we came to play baseball. If they want to keep hitting people, it's fine with me."

So off to Chicago go the first-place Royals with their 10-1 record.

"After a 100-loss season," Affeldt said, "we've got something to prove."