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Royals snap losing streak in Cleveland

Lynn Worthy The Kansas City Star

Whit Merrifield snapped out of his recent funk, the Royals' offense followed his lead and the KC bullpen provided a stellar performance to end the team's losing streak at seven games.

Merrifield homered, drove in three runs, had two hits and scored twice as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 8-6 at Progressive Field Tuesday night.

Merrifield, the two-time defending MLB hits king, had gone 1 for 30 during the club's most recent homestand.

"I've been feeling good, I really have been," Merrifield said. "The only reason it has been a slump is because I haven't really got many hits, as Yogi Berra-ish as that is. You could take it literally, but it's just the truth."

Alex Gordon went 2 for 5, while Maikel Franco and Nicky Lopez collected two RBIs apiece for the Royals (15-28). Adalberto Mondesi singled and scored a run as part of the Royals' late rally.

Before the game, the Royals placed designated hitter and last year's AL home run champion Jorge Soler on the injured list with a right oblique strain (retroactive to Sept. 6).

The Royals called up infielder Matt Reynolds to fill the open roster spot. Reynolds started at third base on Tuesday, while Franco served as the DH.

Merrifield's third-inning three-run homer tied the score and marked his first extra-base hit since he hit a home run in Chicago on Aug. 30. He'd gone eight games (36 at-bats) without an extra-base hit. His ninth-inning double gave him multiple extra-base hits in a game for the first time since Aug. 26.

"It just felt like bad luck," Merrifield said of his recent slump. "There was a lot of balls that in a lot of different places would've been a different result, but playing at Kauffman it's an out. When stuff like that happens -- we talk about it all the time with Terry (Bradshaw) and (John Mabry) -- you can't try to do more.

"I hit two balls really hard last series to left that I thought were at least doubles, maybe homers, that turned into outs. In the back of your head you maybe try to do a little bit more, but really you've got to stay the course and continue to make good swings. I got away from it a little bit."

Trailing 5-3 going into the seventh inning, the Royals scored five runs against the Indians' bullpen in the final three innings to secure the victory.

Lopez (RBI fielder's choice) and Cam Gallagher (RBI double) drove in runs in the seventh inning to tie the score.

Franco had a sacrifice fly and Lopez got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth to drive in two more runs. Franco's RBI single in the ninth drove in their final run.

"Obviously, we get Whit going and good things are bound to happen," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "But after that, Mondi staying back and two-strike hitting, you watch guys get a runner over with nobody out and a man on second base, getting a run in, Nicky Lopez hustling down the line on first and third and a run scores, Mondi getting bunts down, and then you get the big two-out hits. ... It was just a really overall win."

Royals pitcher Jakob Junis, who left his last start against the Indians last week after being hit in the arm by a comebacker, made just his fifth start of the season.

Junis allowed five runs in the first three innings -- all on home runs. He gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Santana with two outs in the first inning. Sandy León added a solo homer in the second, and Francisco Lindor added a two-run smash in the third.

Lindor's homer broke a tie score after Merrifield's three-run homer made it 3-3 in the top of the third inning. Merrifield tied Soler for the team lead with eight homers this season.

The bullpen took over for Junis with a man on and one out in the fifth, and Kyle Zimmer (1 2/3 innings) and Greg Holland (two innings) held the Indians scoreless while the offense mounted its rally. Holland (3-0) got the win.

Scott Barlow gave up one run in the ninth and recorded his second save of the season.

"I feel like we've been in a lot of games the last month we could've won but didn't," Holland said. "The work ethic and motivation and all that stuff is there. It's a bounce here, a bounce there kind of deal that will get you in a rut, but the guys haven't stopped working. I think that's what I saw my first time around here in '11 and '12."