CLEVELAND (AP) — Francisco Lindor broke out of his slump at the perfect time for the Cleveland Indians.
After tying the game with a ninth-inning triple, Lindor scored the winning run on a head-first dive across home plate on Mike Napoli’s sacrifice fly and the Indians rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
Lindor was in a 2-for-19 skid when he came to bat in the ninth, but delivered when it mattered.
“I was just thinking, ‘Make hard contact,'” he said, “And I hit it and I was like, ‘Yes, I did it.’ That’s what I wanted to do.”
Carlos Santana started the rally with a single off Joakim Soria (2-2) and took second on right fielder Paulo Orlando’s fielding error. After Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice, Lindor hit a line drive to right.
Orlando attempted a diving catch but the ball rolled to the wall. Pinch-runner Michael Martinez scored and Lindor slid headfirst into third.
“I didn’t come out running hard out of the box,” Lindor said. “I messed up. That’s a mistake by me, but as soon as I saw the ball drop, I was running until they tell you to stop. I was thinking three all the way.”
Napoli’s fly ball to left was deep enough to score Lindor, who dived into home plate to give Cleveland its second straight walkoff win.
“It means we can do it,” said Lindor, who threw his helmet high in the air after scoring. “We know we can do it, but it’s always fun, it’s always good to have moments like this.”
Tommy Hunter (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win.
Soria filled in as closer for Wade Davis, who had pitched three of the last four days and two straight.
“Just didn’t want to use him three days in a row,” manager Ned Yost said of Davis. “It was one of those things where he needed a day.”
Drew Butera and Cheslor Cuthbert homered for the Royals, who appeared on the verge of winning for the ninth time in 10 games. Jarrod Dyson’s fourth-inning single broke a 3-all tie.
Yordano Ventura allowed two runs in seven innings.
Carlos Carrasco allowed three runs over five innings in his first appearance since April 24, when he strained his left hamstring covering first base. He was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He made a couple costly mistakes. It’ll be nice to have him back. He’s a big, big guy for us.”
Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin also drove in runs for Cleveland.