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Royals Shade Indians


There was no excessive celebrating in Kansas City's clubhouse. No champagne, hugs or high-fives. Just some handshakes and pats on the back.

But for Royals manager Tony Muser, Sunday's 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians was pretty special.

"It feels like we won the World Series, just winning one out of four," Muser said.

Mac Suzuki pitched a career-high 8 1/3 innings and Mike Sweeney went 4-for-5 with two RBIs Sunday as the Royals hung on to avoid a four-game sweep.

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  • "When you come into the Indians' house, and with them playing like they are, it's tough to win a ballgame," said Sweeney. "It's nice to get one today."

    Suzuki (1-0), making his fourth start of the season, recorded his first win as a starter since last Sept. 2. He matched a career-high with eight strikeouts.

    Claimed off waivers from the Mets last season, Suzuki is the first Japanese-born player to pitch in the majors without starting his career in the Japanese pro leagues.

    He speaks English fluently, and on Sunday he relied on the pitcher's universal language for success.

    "I tried to keep the ball down," he said, "get ahead in the count, throw strikes and use my best pitch the splitter."

    Suzuki, who because of injuries has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen, had been battling control problems all year, but walked just one. He had never pitched more than 6 1-3 innings in 52 major league games.

    Suzuki took a 5-2 lead into the ninth and struck out Manny Ramirez for the third time. But Jim Thome followed with a singl off the right-field wall and David Justice homered into the right-field seats.

    That was Suzuki's 129th and final pitch.

    "I was going to leave him out there as long as I could," said Muser, whose bullpen blew a 5-2 lead Saturday. "I wasn't worried about a pitch count."

    Jerry Spradlin, traded by the Indians last season, came on and struck out Travis Fryman and Richie Sexson for his first save since May 25, 1998, with Philadelphia.

    "I'm kind of savoring it," said Spradlin. "It was kind of hard the way everything happened here last year. I'm just glad I was able to get the job done."

    Chuck Finley (3-3) lost his third straight start, allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings. He never got in a groove, and finished with five walks and six strikeouts.

    "I used my curveball more, but it wasn't good," Finley said. "I tried to feel my way through it, but walked too many. I had (Johnny) Damon the leadoff guy 0-2 and walked him. Walked him twice. That's not good."

    Joe Randa homered in the eighth off Scott Kamieniecki to give the Royals a 4-1 lead.

    Mark Quinn's RBI groundout in the sixth put Kansas City ahead 2-1, and Sweeney hit an RBI double off the wall in left in the seventh.

    Randa opened the eighth with his sixth homer and first by in the series by the Royals, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.

    "We felt like we should have won yesterday's game," Randa said. "We wanted to come out here today and make a statement. We know Cleveland is the team to beat."

    Finley, who was nearly unhittable in his last start at Minnesota before a one-inning meltdown, gave up back-to-back doubles to Carlos Febles and Sweeney in the first as the Royals went up 1-0.

    "Sweeney has always been tough on me," Finley said. "In spring training or during the season. Today I tried some off-speed stuff on him, but got it up in the zone and he got me again."

    A poorly executed rundown by the Royals allowed the Indians to tie it in the bottom of the innin.

    Kenny Lofton singled, stole second and stopped at third when Roberto Alomar singled to left. However, Alomar took a big turn at first and found himself trapped off the bag.

    Alomar managed to stay alive long enough for Lofton to break for the plate and he scored on a wild throw home by Sweeney from first base.

    Notes

  • Kansas City's Carlos Beltran, the AL Rookie of the Year last season, went 0-for-14 in the series and is hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
  • Diaz's homer was his first since last Aug. 22.
  • Thome's steal of second in the fourth inning was the 17th of his career and the first for the Indians' first baseman since 1998.
  • The Royals got one steal, but missed a chance to increase their league-leading total in the second. Quinn walked and stole second, but was ruled out when Beltran was called for batter's interference. Kansas City is 42-for-45 in steal attempts.
  • Justice has five homers in his last eight games.

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