CLEVELAND (AP) - With home plate just a few more strides away, David Lough suddenly stopped.
And right there in the middle of the third-base line, Kansas City's chances to win halted, too.
Attempting to score the tying run, Lough ran through third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez's stop sign and got caught in a rundown in the ninth inning as the Royals lost 4-3 to the Cleveland Indians, who rallied against Kansas City's normally reliable bullpen for three runs in the eighth inning.
"I take full responsibility," Lough said. "It's 100 percent my fault."
Trailing 4-3, the Royals put runners at the first and second with one out in the ninth against Vinnie Pestano. Alcides Escobar then singled to right and as Lough came around third it appeared he would score with ease as right fielder Drew Stubbs' throw was off line.
However, Lough panicked after passing Rodriguez and got caught in a rundown between home and third. He scrambled back to the bag safely, but Mike Moustakas was also there and was tagged out.
"I saw the single toward the line," Lough explained. "I thought I was going to score. I came around and by the time I picked Eddie up I was halfway. He was holding me up and I didn't really see him until I got halfway."
Lough nearly made another mistake as he briefly took his hand off the bag and almost got doubled off to end the game by Pestano, who got involved in the rundown and was the one who slapped the tag on Moustakas. Pestano said the Indians don't necessarily work on situations where two runners are on the same base.
"Luckily, I had about seven guys shouting at me about what to do so I just chose the thing that I heard twice," he said with a laugh.
What was he hearing?
""Run it back, run it back,"' he said. ""Don't throw it, don't throw it. Tag him, tag him, it's his base.' I had to process a lot of information."
Royals manager Ned Yost didn't blame anyone for the gaffe.
"Eddie held him up," Yost said. "I don't know if he had his head down and looked up and saw it late or what happened. He was coming hard around the bag."
It was a bizarre night for the Royals, who scored two runs in the second without a hit, scored once in the eighth on just one hit and didn't score in the ninth despite getting three hits and a walk.
Kansas City lost for just the third time in 14 games, wasting a strong performance by Ervin Santana, who held the Indians to one run and three hits in seven innings.
Yost then turned it over to his bullpen, which had given up just two runs in the past 37 innings. But the Indians finally strung something together in the eighth off Kelvin Herrera (3-5) and Tim Collins as Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis delivered RBI hits before Michael Brantley drove in Mike Aviles with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.
"We don't give up many leads in the eighth inning but we did tonight," Yost said.
Cody Allen (2-0), whose throwing error in the eighth helped the Royals take a 3-1 lead, got the win. Pestano held on for his second save.
The Indians did next to nothing against Santana, but they pounced on Kansas City's bullpen in the eighth.
Ryan Raburn drew a leadoff walk from Herrera, moved up on a groundout and scored when Bourn slapped a single inside the left-field line.
Aviles followed with a single and Kipnis, who stranded seven runners in a 2-1 loss on Monday night, delivered an RBI double off Collins to tie it. The Royals walked Carlos Santana intentionally to load the bases and Brantley hit a fly ball to right, easily scoring Aviles.
Before the comeback, the Indians were in danger of falling another game behind Kansas City in the AL Central.
Santana deserved a better outcome. The right-hander made it look easy against an Indians lineup that was in a deep offensive funk.
Santana, who pitched the only no-hitter in Progressive Field history in 2011 for the Angels, didn't allow a runner to reach second base until the sixth and had Cleveland's hitters guessing most of the night.
"He was spectacular," Yost said.
Ubaldo Jimenez's wildness helped the Royals take a 2-0 lead in the third without benefit of a hit.
He walked No. 9 hitter Escobar and Alex Gordon to start the inning and then uncorked a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Hosmer followed with an RBI groundout, and with Salvador Perez batting, Jimenez bounced another pitch in the dirt that got away from catcher Carlos Santana, scoring Gordon.
Notes: Santana, who was making his 250th appearance, has gone at least seven innings in each of his past six starts. ... With a win today, the Royals would take their fifth straight series. They haven't done that since May 11-27, 1993. ... Royals RHP Felipe Paulino, attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, has been pulled back from a minor league rehab assignment because of back stiffness. Yost doesn't think the back issue is serious. ... Perez snapped an 0-for-13 slump with an RBI single in the eighth.