CLEVELAND (AP) -- Tim Laker tipped his cap and strode to the
dugout soaking in the applause.
At last, a reliever for the Cleveland Indians had held the
Royals scoreless.Too bad he's their backup catcher.Matt Stairs hit a grand slam and matched a career-high with six
RBI as Kansas City ended a six-game road losing streak by roughing
up the Indians 15-5 Tuesday night.Stairs connected for his eighth career slam in the sixth inning,
on the first pitch after Indians manager Eric Wedge had reliever
Jeriome Robertson intentionally walk Juan Gonzalez."Ten times he throws that pitch, and I maybe hit it once,"
Stairs said. "But I guess I hit that one at the perfect time."Stairs' shot gave the Royals an 11-4 lead. He hit an RBI double
off Chad Durbin (1-2) during a five-run first and added a
run-scoring grounder in the second.Kansas City came in 0-6 on its first road trip of 2004. But the
Royals roughed up Durbin and Robertson, who was recalled from the
minors before the game when Jason Stanford went on the disabled
list with a strained forearm.Ken Harvey also homered for the Royals in their highest-scoring
game against Cleveland since April 27, 1979."It wasn't a must-win ballgame," Royals manager Tony Pena
said. "It was a must go out and play a good ballgame."Cleveland's beleaguered and battered bullpen -- 1-6 with a 6.28
ERA -- hit a low point when Wedge brought in Laker, his
second-string catcher, to pitch the ninth.After holding the Royals to one hit and scoreless, Laker took
off his cap and held it high to salute the cheering crowd as he
walked to the dugout."That was the best ovation of my career," said Laker, who held
the Chicago White Sox without a run in a similar situation in 2001.
"I just hoping to keep my perfect ERA intact."Wedge didn't want to bring in Laker, but with his relievers
overworked already, he couldn't afford to use another one just to
mop up."He told me I was going in to pitch and to find a glove," said
Laker, who borrowed one from reliever Jack Cressend. "I was just
laying it in there."Pena, a former catcher, was impressed."Catchers can do it all," he said.In his fourth start, the Royals' Brian Anderson (1-0) got
something other than a no-decision. The left-hander allowed two
earned runs and seven hits in six innings, becoming the first
Royals starter to get a win this season.The Royals scored five times in the first, batting around
against Durbin, their former teammate.Carlos Beltran singled and Mike Sweeney hit a fly to right that
should have been caught for the second out. Instead, right fielder
Alex Escobar seemed to shy away as he neared the wall and the ball
dropped for an RBI single.After another base hit, Stairs hit a double to make it 2-0.
Harvey's RBI single and No. 9 hitter Andre Blanco's two-run single
-- his first career RBI -- put the Royals up 5-0.The Indians got two runs back in their half on Escobar's two-run
double, but he grabbed his left leg pulling into second base and
was replaced in the fourth.The team said Escobar strained his gluteal muscle.Cleveland closed to 7-4 with two unearned runs in the fourth,
set up when Gonzalez dropped a fly in right.But two innings later, Stairs' shot to straightaway center blew
it open, and the Royals scored four more runs in the seventh.Matt Lawton homered in the eighth for Cleveland.
Beltran matched a career-high with three steals. ... The
Indians dropped to 1-7 vs. left-handers. ... Lou Merloni made
Cleveland's opening-day roster partly because of his versatility,
and he recorded his first career assist as an outfielder in the
fourth by throwing out Tony Graffanino from left trying to stretch
a single. Later, Merloni robbed Blanco of extra bases with a
lunging catch down the line. ... A Royals spokesman said a fan in
Independence, Mo., won $25,000 in a radio promotion when Stairs hit
his grand slam. ... Indians SS Omar Vizquel remains one hit shy of
2,000. He went 0-for-4.