CLEVELAND (AP) — Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt’s Jr.’s throwing error led to Cleveland scoring three runs on an infield grounder in the seventh inning in the Guardians’ 8-5 win over the Royals on Tuesday night in a matchup of the AL Central’s top two teams.

The Guardians trailed 5-0 in the fourth before storming back to win the series opener and push their division lead to five over the Royals.

Witt clobbered a pair of two-run homers, but his errant throw in the seventh was more than costly.

After Tyler Freeman’s homer tied it 5-5 for the Guardians and chased starter Seth Lugo, Cleveland loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice and two walks — one by Sam Long (0-1) with two outs when David Fry hit a grounder toward the middle.

Witt gloved it to the right of the base and initially tried to beat Josh Naylor to second for a force. When Witt realized he couldn’t get Naylor, he unleashed a wild throw that first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino had no chance of getting.

The ball wound up in the photographer’s pit. Because Naylor had already gotten to second base, he was awarded third and home.

Rookie Cade Smith (3-0) came on for Triston McKenzie, and Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his AL-leading 19th save.

Naylor hit a two-run homer for the Guardians, who reached 40 wins in 60 games for just the third time since 1995.

Witt connected in the third and fourth innings off Cleveland starter McKenzie, who has given up eight homers in his last three starts.

Down 5-0 in the fourth after Witt’s second homer, the Guardians got Naylor’s 16th homer while scoring three in the fourth off Lugo, who came in leading the AL in wins (9) and was 6-0 in six road starts.

It was the first meeting this season between two of the majors’ most improved teams.

Witt’s second homer, a 454-foot blast to center field, put the Royals ahead 5-0 in the fourth inning.

OLD FRIENDS, NEW RIVALS

Guardians manager Stephen Vogt credits Royals manager Matt Quatraro for helping shape his path to the majors.

Vogt’s first manager in the minor leagues was Quatraro.

“He taught me everything,” Vogt said. “How to work and act like a professional. I had him my first two years and I couldn’t have been more thankful for somebody to show me what it means to be a pro, what it means to work, what it means to hold your teammates accountable and hold yourself accountable to being the best you can be.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: OF Kyle Isbel wasn’t in the lineup out of an abundance of caution after colliding with Witt in Sunday’s game. Isbel was struck in the head by Witt’s knee as they chased a bloop. Isbel also recently fouled a ball off his face and suffered bruises and fractures. “This was just me being more careful than trying to rush him,” Quatraro said.

Guardians: RHP Gavin Williams (elbow soreness) pitched 2 1/3 innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Columbus.

UP NEXT

The Guardians were still considering options for Tuesday’s starter to face Royals RHP Brady Singer (4-2, 2.63), who gave up a career-high 13 hits in his previous start at Progressive Field.

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