Pavano made his manager look good. Pavano retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth and kept the Indians in the game. His club was still trailing, 3-2, when he exited after the sixth, but Pavano earned the win when the Indians rallied to take the lead in the top of the seventh and eventually claim an 8-3 victory. And he earned some praise from the man who sent him out for the sixth.
"It starts with Pavano," said Wedge, whose club won its second straight game. "You're hoping he can get through five innings with his pitch count, and he ends up going through six innings. He was really good, and I think as strong later as he was earlier."
Pavano surrendered two runs on three hits in the first inning, but he settled in and allowed just one more run in his next five.
"First inning, I was feeling for it a little bit, and I gave up two balls in the gap and then that one ball in the hole," Pavano said. "So I felt I was right where I needed to be. I just needed to bare down a little bit [and] obviously work ahead. I was a little inconsistent today, but, like I said, I labored through it."
He also matched Zack Greinke, the American League's ERA leader, pitch for pitch in the middle innings. Pavano and Greinke both tossed up scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Greinke left with the lead, but Pavano's side left with the win.
"I'm not pitching against him; I'm pitching against their hitters," Pavano said. "So I'm not one to really worry about who's out there."
Still, Pavano recognized that he needed to shut down the Royals if the Indians were going to stay in the game.
"I was definitely cognizant of the fact that [Greinke's] not going to give up many runs," Pavano said, "and he's as tough as they get. But then I look at our lineup, and I like our chances."
After a rough month of April, Pavano has turned into one of Cleveland's more consistent starters in May. He's lowered his ERA by more than three runs, dropping to 6.10 after rising to 9.50 at the end of April. In his last five starts, he's 4-1 and pitched at least six innings four times.
"It was one of those wins you have to come away with," Pavano said. "We battled to the end."