KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Zack Greinke had a relatively benign game plan against Cleveland: throw strikes early, let the hitters put the ball in play.
He was way off -- and ended up in the record book.
Greinke struck out a team-record 15 in eight overpowering innings and got some rare offensive support, helping the Kansas City Royals end a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Taking advantage of Cleveland's passive approach to breaking balls early in the count, Greinke (12-8) changed his mindset, going after hitters with a nasty variety of offspeed pitches. He left the Indians baffled all night, passing his career high with 12 strikeouts in the first six innings, breaking Mark Gubicza's 21-year-old team record of 14 by getting Andy Marte in the seventh.
"They were taking a lot early and letting me get the two strikes," said Greinke, who dropped his AL-leading ERA to 2.43. "With two strikes, I usually try to strike guys out."
And what's this? Greinke actually got some run support.
Mike Jacobs drove in two runs and Miguel Olivo hit his career-high 17th homer off Justin Masterson (4-5), putting the Royals up 4-0 by the fourth inning. Mitch Maier added to it in the seventh with his first homer in 302 career at-bats, a two-run shot that put the Royals up 6-1.
Pitching with wiggle room for one of the few times this season, Greinke went after Cleveland's hitters, setting them up with his dewy slow curveball, punching them out with hard sliders and even harder fastballs.
"That's about as good as I've seen any pitcher in my time here at this level," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He had special stuff tonight. Everything was on the plate. He had everything working."
As usual, Greinke was unpredictable, nearly unhittable at times, blowing high-90s fastballs past hitters, wobbling their knees with curveballs up to 30 mph slower.
The right-hander struck out Shin-Soo Choo in the first inning to surpass his career high of 183 in a season and had this exchange with Matt LaPorta in the third: slow curveball, slower curveball, slider in the dirt -- no chance. Greinke kept the mower rolling in the fifth inning by striking out the side in 12 pitches -- two balls -- including LaPorta again on a dirt-diving slider.
Greinke did make a mistake to start off the sixth: a belt-high fastball that Marte hit out for his first homer of the season. He also gave up a run-scoring double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the eighth that cut Kansas City's lead to 6-2.
Greinke didn't come out for the ninth, replaced by Robinson Tejeda after allowing two runs and five hits on a 117-pitch night that pushed his strikeout total to 197.
"He was throwing anything and everything up there at different speeds," said Indians right-fielder Jamey Carroll, who struck out twice and in four hitless at-bats. "There is no pattern to get any sort of rhythm at all."
The Royals made sure, for once, not to waste his effort.
Greinke entered the game with the unfortunate distinction of having the AL's lowest ERA and lowest run support. Eight times in his 25 starts this season the Royals failed to score more than two runs, including four shutouts, erasing any hopes of a 20-win season.
The Royals didn't waste any time helping out their ace this time, scoring a run in the first on Jacobs' single. Kansas City added two more in the third on a fielder's choice by Billy Butler and another RBI single by Jacobs to go up 3-0. Three innings, one more run than the Royals had in Greinke's previous two starts.
Olivo made it 4-0 in the fourth inning, lifting a solo shot out to left-center off Masterson, overcame early control problems to allow four runs on seven hits in six innings. Maier put it out of reach with a two-run shot in the seventh off Rafael Perez, giving Greinke six or more runs for just the fifth time this season.
"With the way he was throwing today, every little tally was huge," Maier said after being drenched by a beer shower at the hands of his teammates. "That's how it was early in the year. When he went on that big run at the start of the season, you knew three, four runs was going to be huge."
- NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, who's from Emporia, Kan., took early batting practice and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
- Gubicza set the Kansas City record for strikeouts with 14 against Minnesota on July 27, 1988.