KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) José Ramírez hit his fifth career grand slam and the Cleveland Guardians beat the Kansas City Royals 14-1 on Wednesday night, moving into first place in the AL Central despite a losing record.

Ramírez lined a first-pitch cutter from Austin Cox into the left-field bullpen after Cox opened the third by allowing a single and two walks.

“He’s been one of the best hitters in the game for a number of years,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “The grand slam didn’t even seem like that bad of a pitch.”

Ramírez has 13 homers this season.

“José stole the show, got us on the board early,” Josh Bell said. “A grand slam like that takes the pressure off and allows us to relax in the box. He’s an incredible player, makes the adjustments.”

Ramírez added an RBI double in the seventh and is hitting .411 (30 for 73) with 14 extra-base hits in his last 18 games.

Cleveland has won seven of nine to surpass Minnesota (40-42) in the division standings.

“We kind of expected this, day one of camp,” Bell said. “But we still have a ton of season left to play. We’ve got to take care of every last ballgame. We plan to do that.”

Bell’s two-run homer, a 464-foot drive into the right-field fountains, gave Cleveland a 6-0 lead in the fifth.

“It was cool to not hit a ball 4 feet in front of home," Bell said. "Hopefully, there will be more like that.”

Bell added a two-run double in the sixth as the Guardians batted around against James McArthur, a 26-year-old right-hander who made his major league debut.

Cleveland (39-40) played its second straight game without manager Terry Francona, who was hospitalized overnight and told by doctors to rest when he felt lightheaded before Tuesday’s game.

Bo Naylor connected for his first major league home run, a two-run line drive to left-center in the seven-run sixth, the Guardians’ biggest inning this season. He had a career-high three hits.

Nick Sandlin (4-3), the first of four relievers, got four outs. Starter Logan Allen worked out of several jams, allowing six runners over 3 2/3 innings.

“I thought his stuff was working really well,” Naylor said of Allen, who threw 98 pitches. “The pitch count got a little up. Great stuff. He competed in every situation he was a part of.”

Making his first major league start, Cox (0-1) allowed his first runs after 12 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to begin his career. He surrendered four runs, four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings with two strikeouts.

“He was throwing the ball fine,” Quatraro said. “His command was a little erratic. He struggled to sustain the velocity in the heat. His pitch count got up there a little bit. They made him work hard there in the second and third. His stuff was fine. He just lost the zone a little bit.”

First baseman Matt Duffy pitched a scoreless ninth for the Royals, who have lost 10 of their last 12 series, with two splits.


Royals: 2B Nicky Lopez left after being hit by a pitch on his right hand.


With the Guardians seeking a three-game sweep, Shane Bieber (5-5, 3.69 ERA) will oppose Kansas City’s Zach Greinke (1-8, 5.31) on Thursday.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Copyright 2023 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.