CLEVELAND — Franmil Reyes hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians ended a nine-game losing streak — their longest under manager Terry Francona — with a 7-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
After Royals manager Mike Matheny elected to have reliever Greg Holland (2-4) walk the dangerous José Ramírez to put runners at first and second, Reyes made him pay with his blast into the left-field seats.
Reyes’ 14th homer set off a wild celebration by the Indians, who doused the slugger with water when he reached home plate. The win eases some recent pain for the Indians, who had been collapsing amid a slew of injuries and little offense.
Before Reyes’ blow, Roberto Pérez hit a three-run homer in the eighth to give the Indians new life.
Carlos Santana homered twice for the Royals, connecting for a tying shot in the ninth off James Karinchak (5-2), who wound up getting the win after blowing a save.
Bobby Bradley also homered for the Indians, who won for the first time since June 28. For a while, it looked as if Cleveland might extend its longest losing streak since an 11-gamer in 2012.
With the Indians badly in need of a big hit, Pérez gave them one, connecting off Scott Barlow to give Cleveland a 4-3 lead. After circling the bases, Pérez was met before he reached the dugout by several teammates.
But the euphoria didn’t last long as Santana, who played 10 seasons in Cleveland before signing with Kansas City as a free agent last winter, connected for his second homer.
Hunter Dozier also homered for the Royals, who have been on their own skid and have lost 14 of 17.
Santana and Dozier connected for solo homers in the fourth off Zach Plesac, who returned from the injured list to Cleveland’s rotation after bizarrely breaking his right thumb and missing nearly six weeks.
Plesac wasn’t bad, allowing three runs — two on homers — and five hits in four innings while on a pitch count.
The Indians were no-hit by five Tampa pitchers over seven innings Wednesday in Game 2 while being swept in a doubleheader. They finally got their first hit in 11 innings over three games when Óscar Mercado led off the third with a double off Danny Duffy that was initially ruled foul but changed after a video review.
Plesac made his first start since May 23. It was after a rough outing that day in Minnesota when he sustained his freak injury by snagging his right thumb on his undershirt while yanking it off.
Francona said the challenge for him and his staff during this losing skid was to not let it become overwhelming — hard as that may be.
“We try to check ourselves first and foremost. If we react to something during a game that maybe we wouldn’t normally react to, that’s going to send up the wrong message that it’s getting to all of us,” he said. “So, trying to be consistent is huge.
“Trying to be upbeat, but upbeat for the right reasons. Still be there for guys when they hustle, they run balls out, things like that, or if they line out and they’re frustrated. But at the same time, correcting things that need to be corrected.”
Royals: C Cam Gallagher (shoulder) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha. He hasn’t played with Kansas City since June 16.
As the Indians continue to make pitching plans on the fly due to injuries, RHP Triston McKenzie will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start Friday’s game against Royals RHP Brad Keller.