KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)Zack Greinke pitched five scoreless innings of three-hit ball and the Kansas City Royals slowed the Cleveland Guardians 5-1 on Sunday.
A day after the Guardians got a season-high 23 hits in a 13-1 romp, Greinke (3-5) and four relievers combined on a five-hitter.
”You never know how a team will respond, but to watch this team, the guys just come back and play really hard,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. ”I thought they did a real nice job all the way around today and Zack set the tone for us and his stuff was really sharp. He put everything where he wanted to today.”
Greinke struck out five and walked one in his 222nd career win.
”I think (Greinke) kind of out-veteraned us,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. ”He started by expanding with that breaking ball down and then got into the game and got his rhythm down with everything and just spun it off his fastball.”
In the third inning, Greinke threw his 50,000th total pitch in the majors. Now in his 19th season, the 38-year-old righty became the 17th pitcher to reach that feat since 1988, when pitch count data became available. Justin Verlander is the only other active player to reach the mark.
”It is pretty neat,” Greinke said. ”I don’t really pay attention to many of those, but it sounds like a high number. The 500 career starts were more interesting to me but it was pretty cool.”
Said Matheny: ”I don’t think I’ve ever heard a stat on how many pitches a pitcher has thrown.”
”That’s a lot and I guarantee that’ll be his answer but I love watching this guy pitch. What he’s doing in our clubhouse and how he competes in the high-level expectation he has for himself is almost unrealistic, but that’s part of what makes him so great,” he said.
MJ Melendez drove in two runs and Andrew Benintendi extended his on-base streak to an AL-best 19 games. Benintendi hit an RBI single in the fifth and Melendez had a two-run single later in the inning.
Kyle Isbel and Nicky Lopez also had RBI singles for the Royals.
Zach Plesac (2-6) gave up three earned runs and six hits in five innings. He began the game with a 6-0 record against the Royals in 11 career appearances.
”It was frustrating,” Plesac said. ”You feel like you’re in control the whole inning and then things start happening and unraveling and you just want to continue to execute in those moments.”
”When you get a chance to get out of there you just got to execute pitches. This was a big game, series tied, rubber match and we had to bring the energy today and this was a game to win so, yeah, it hurts,” he said.
Owen Miller recorded the lone extra-base hit for Cleveland and scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.
The win snapped a streak of six straight rubber-game losses at home for Kansas City dating to last Sept. 5.
Guardians: 1B-OF Josh Naylor was scratched from the starting lineup with lower back discomfort.
Royals: 2B Whit Merrifield was removed from the game at the start of the fifth inning with right toe discomfort. Merrifield holds the longest active games played streak in the majors with 553.
”I didn’t even see it, but I guess as he broke towards the line on a ball he pushed off and felt something and came back in,” Matheny said. ”His X-ray came back negative, but he’s getting an MRI today.”
Royals: RHP Jonathan Heasley (right shoulder tendinitis) was placed on the 15-day injured list and LHP Foster Griffin was recalled from Triple-A Omaha in the corresponding move.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (4-5, 3.86 ERA) will open Cleveland’s eight-game homestand against AL Central foes, starting with a four-gamer against the Chicago White Sox.
Royals: Kansas City will continue its homestand with a four-game series against Detroit with a twinbill on Monday. RHP Brad Keller (4-9, 4.37) will start Game 1 and LHP Daniel Lynch (3-7, 4.95) is expected to take the mound in Game 2.
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