CLEVELAND -- A season of frustrating losses has taken its toll on the Kansas City Royals.
Starting pitcher Runelvys Hernandez and catcher John Buck exchanged punches in the dugout Tuesday night, but the Royals regrouped for a 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the 1,000th game at Jacobs Field.
"It's September and there was some sort of misunderstanding," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "Something was said and both guys are extremely competitive, but they have to have a little more poise. We met and straightened things out."
After striking out Ryan Garko with two runners on to end the third inning, Hernandez (6-9) jogged to the dugout, pointed at Buck and began yelling. The players charged each other and began throwing punches before being separated by teammates and coaches.
"Nothing happened," Hernandez insisted despite being told the skirmish was shown on television. "Everything's cool. Let's talk about the game. This was a good win. I thank my teammates for doing a good job."
Buck was unavailable for comment after Kansas City snapped an 11-game losing streak at Jacobs Field, where the Indians are 570-430 since the ballpark opened in 1994.
Both players remained in the game after the fight, and Hernandez allowed three runs over five innings to earn the win. It was Kansas City's first victory in Cleveland since July 20, 2005.
Joe Nelson pitched the ninth for his seventh save as the Royals got their 23rd road win, surpassing last year's total.
"He's done a good job for us," Bell said.
Nelson is perfect in save opportunities -- a rarity in a Kansas City bullpen that has blown 28 of them.
"I can't worry about anything except getting three outs," Nelson said. "You start thinking about past failures, you are halfway beat right there.
"I'm pitching to keep my job and to try and work my way into the mix for next season."
Esteban German went 4-for-4 and scored three times for the Royals. He doubled leading off the ninth, went to third on a foul out and scored on a throwing error by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to make it 5-3.
German is batting .351 (39-for-111) in his last 43 games following a 2-for-27 (.074) streak.
Mark Grudzielanek drove in two runs for Kansas City and Buck hit an RBI single.
Indians starter Jeremy Sowers (7-4) gave up four runs and seven hits over five innings in his first loss since July 16 and final start of the season. The 23-year-old rookie is being shut down to avoid too much work after pitching a combined 185 2-3 innings between Triple-A Buffalo and Cleveland.
"It didn't dictate how I pitched," Sowers said. "I feel good. I would have liked to end on a better note."
The left-hander went 9-1 with a 1.39 ERA at Buffalo before being called up on June 24. The four runs Tuesday were the most he yielded in any of his 10 starts since July 22. During that time, he went 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA.
"He's done a fantastic job for us," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's done more than we ever anticipated."
Grudzielanek and Buck had RBI singles in the first inning to put the Royals ahead 2-0.
In the second, Garko was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Hernandez, but plate umpire Gary Darling did not award him first base. Darling called the pitch a ball, saying Garko didn't try to get out of the way. Garko eventually walked and later scored on a single by Jhonny Peralta to make it 2-1.
Hernandez allowed eight hits and was helped by some solid defense. The Royals' infield turned double plays in each of the first two innings. In the third, left fielder German and center fielder David DeJesus both made nice catches against the wall to take away possible extra-base hits.
German had an RBI triple and scored on single by Grudzielanek to make it 4-1 in the fourth.
Cleveland got single runs in the fourth and fifth on a fielder's choice RBI by Joe Inglett and Garko's run-scoring single to make it 4-3.
- Cleveland's Casey Blake had a stolen base taken away in the sixth when Peralta struck out and was called for interfering with Buck's throw.
- Indians DH Travis Hafner had his broken right hand re-examined and said doctors told him he will not need surgery. He's out for the season.
- Sowers held opponents to two or fewer runs in nine of his 14 starts this season.