KANSAS CITY — An ailing Cliff Lee held it together just long enough to deal with the Royals.
Fighting flu-like symptoms and nausea, the Cleveland left-hander shut out Kansas City on two hits through seven innings Monday night and got the win in a 5-1 victory.
Lee, who struck out five and walked two, almost became sick several times between innings. “I was trying to fight it the whole game,” he said.
Then manager Eric Wedge got him off the field just in time. When Lee finally came out, he vomited in the tunnel entering the visitors’ clubhouse.
“This morning I woke up in a cold sweat, felt real achy,” he said. “I felt pretty bad. I was fighting it off the whole game. I guess it gave me something else to worry about.”
Several of the Indians weren’t feeling well. Pitcher David Riske felt bad enough to go to a local hospital for treatment. He was not kept overnight.
“A bunch of the guys here are sick,” said Lee (1-0). “I think we’ve got the flu or something.”
Casey Blake and Ben Broussard hit consecutive home runs and Jhonny Peralta and Coco Crisp hit consecutive triples for the Indians, who the day before had beaten Minnesota 2-1 while giving up just five hits.
Lee did not allow a hit until Angel Berroa singled to start the fourth. Ruben Gotay doubled leading off the sixth against Lee, who led the Indians last year with 161 strikeouts but struggled in his first two starts this season.
Rafael Betancourt allowed one hit over the final two innings to complete the three-hitter.
Zack Greinke (0-1) went five innings and was charged with five runs on seven hits, with three strikeouts and one walk. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
The Royals had consecutive errors in the first inning, though Cleveland didn’t score. The team that lost 104 games last year and cut $11 million in payroll is 1-6 in its first homestand and has scored more than two runs only once in the seven games while batting .202.
Typical of the slumping Royals is right fielder Emil Brown, who was 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last 18 at-bats.
“We’re kind of in a hitting funk right now, the whole team,” Brown said. “And we all know it. No one wants to go up there and make outs. I think we’ve got to keep swinging. Hopefully, something’s got to give sooner or later.”
Blake led off the Cleveland second with his second home run of the season. A few minutes later, Broussard hit Greinke’s 3-0 delivery for his first home run, a 419-foot shot over the fence in right for a 2-0 lead.
Aaron Boone was hit by a slow, sweeping breaking ball with one out in the fourth. Then with two outs, Peralta and Crisp tripled. Peralta scored on Greinke’s wild pitch and then Grady Sizemore’s RBI single brought home Crisp to make it 5-0.
The Royals got a run off Betancourt in the eighth on Berroa’s infield out, scoring Ruben Gotay from third.
It was no consolation to the Royals to hear they’d just been beaten by a sick pitcher.
“Really?” Brown said when told how bad Lee was feeling. “I’m sorry for him if he’s sick. But maybe if he was healthy he’d have pitched a lot worse.”
Notes: The Royals still were not sure if rookie 3B Mark Teahen, on the 15-day DL with back troubles, would be able to begin a rehabilitation assignment this week at Triple-A Omaha. ... After starting the first inning with two infield errors, the Royals ended it with a spectacular play. With a runner at third and two out, Travis Hafner hit a hot grounder to the right of 2B Gotay, who made a one-handed stop and flipped the ball back to SS Angel Berroa, who nailed the runner at first. ... Cleveland C Victor Martinez had a few painful moments after Lee’s pitch hit him on the right foot. He hopped into the infield and went down on one knee and was attended to by team officials. ... Indians relievers have retired 29 of 34 first batters.