KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Lost in Kansas City's dismal record and the owner's threats of sweeping organizational change has been some nice, solid pitching the last 10 days or so.
Relievers Mike Wood, Andrew Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos combined to throw six innings of one-run relief to lead the Royals over the Cleveland Indians 4-3 Monday night.
"We've got some good arms and they're starting to understand that throwing strikes is the most important thing," manager Buddy Bell said.
Over the past 18 games, Kansas City relievers have posted a 2.98 ERA in 66 1/3 innings.
"In the last 10 or 12 days, it's been very consistent," said Doug Mientkiewicz, who had a two-run single and figured in a play that losing pitcher Paul Byrd wishes he could take back.
"And we're starting to click a little bit offensively," Mientkiewicz said. "If we could score four runs a game we'd probably have won three-quarters of the games we've lost."
John Buck hit his first homer of the season for the Royals, who have won their last three games against Cleveland at home.
Wood (3-0) threw 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Denny Bautista, who gave up four hits and two runs in three-plus innings in his first start since going on the disabled list April 14 with a sore right pectoral muscle.
"Everybody's starting to get their roles down," Wood said. "As long as the starters keep us in the game, just mix in some runs here and there. We have to start turning it around because it's going to be a long season otherwise."
Wood gave up just three hits and did not issue a walk. Burgos retired the last four outs for his fifth save in six opportunities.
"We created opportunities for ourselves but we didn't finish innings off," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.
"We had a runner at third base with less than two outs a couple of times but we didn't do a very good job of sticking our nose in there and trying to get something done, and you see the outcome."
It's the second time this year the Royals have beaten Byrd (4-3), who won a career-best 17 games for Kansas City in 2002.
Mientkiewicz gave the Royals a 2-1 lead in the first with a two-run single after Esteban German led off the inning with a walk and Mark Grudzielanek doubled.
Buck led off the fifth with a homer and went 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .217. After Buck's homer, the Royals loaded the bases with none out on two singles and Byrd's throwing error on Mientkiewicz's sacrifice bunt.
Byrd escaped with only one run on Emil Brown's sacrifice fly, but was still kicking himself for the throwing error to third baseman Aaron Boone.
"I wasn't really expecting Mientkiewicz to bunt," Byrd said. "It caught us by surprise a little bit. But when he did, I had enough time to make the throw.
"Boonie was off the bag a little bit and I made a throw to the right. If I hit him in the chest, we're still playing. That one is going to cost me some sleep."
Byrd went seven innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, three earned, with two walks and no strikeouts.
Grady Sizemore tripled on Bautista's third pitch of the game and scored on Jason Michaels' groundout to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
The lanky right-hander did not allow another run until the fourth when Victor Martinez doubled -- extending his AL-best hitting streak to 16 games -- and scored on Casey Blake's sacrifice fly off Wood.
Sizemore hit a solo homer in the ninth.
Kansas City owner David Glass declined to say what changes he is contemplating for the team's front office staff. Glass said last week that he is planning major changes. ... Bautista was reinstated from the 15-day DL and Joe Mays was designated for assignment. The Royals asked Mays to accept a minor league assignment but Bell said he had declined. ... Martinez has reached base in 31 of 32 games. ... Cleveland RHP Rafael Betancourt is scheduled to throw a 40-pitch bullpen on Tuesday in Cleveland. He was put on the DL with a back injury. ... The crowd of 9,029 was the smallest of the year.