CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco's victory slipped away first. Then, the Indians let a win slide past them.
Pinch-runner Elliot Johnson scored from third base when catcher Carlos Santana couldn't block reliever Matt Albers' wild pitch in the ninth inning, giving the Kansas City Royals a 2-1 win over Cleveland on Monday night.
Johnson sprinted home and slid in safely after a fastball from Albers got through Santana's legs and skipped all the way to the backstop.
"I tried to block it," Santana said. "I think I was a little late putting the glove down. Tomorrow is a new day."
And the Indians will begin it in third place in the AL Central after the Royals passed them in the standings by winning for the 11th time in 13 games.
Cleveland couldn't come up with a big hit against Kansas City starter James Shields and wasted a strong performance by the enigmatic Carrasco, who was pitching for the first time since serving a seven-game suspension for throwing at New York's Kevin Youkilis on April 9.
Although Carrasco remains winless since June 29, 2011 — he missed last season following Tommy John surgery — the Indians were encouraged by the outing.
Carrasco allowed one run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings, ending up with a tough no-decision. He walked one, struck out four and commanded both sides of the plate.
"That was what we were hoping for," manager Terry Francona said, "that kind of performance."
The streaky Indians, who recently ended an eight-game losing streak, have scored two runs or less in three of their past four games.
In his previous outing, Carrasco was rocked for six runs and 10 hits in four innings by the Detroit Tigers, who didn't have to worry about Carrasco throwing inside because he rarely tried.
However, Carrasco challenged the Royals on the inner half of the plate and retired the first 13 in order before Lorenzo Cain singled sharply to right.
"He didn't give us anything," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He threw the ball extremely well, his fastball was 95-97 (mph), he had a tremendous slider, and he had a nasty, nasty changeup. He handcuffed us for a long time and didn't look anything like his numbers were coming in."
Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow (3-2) struck out two after putting the potential go-ahead run at third in the eighth. The Indians got Michael Bourn to third with one out in the ninth off closer Greg Holland, but he struck out Mike Aviles and then retired Jason Kipnis on a routine grounder to second.
Earlier, Kipnis struck out with the bases loaded in the third and again in the fifth.
Bryan Shaw (0-1) couldn't protect a 1-0 lead for Carrasco, who battled Shields to a draw before Santana's leadoff homer in the sixth broke the scoreless tie.
With the score tied 1-all, Billy Butler opened the Kansas City ninth with a double off Shaw, who walked Cain and was pulled by Francona for left-hander Rich Hill. David Lough dropped a bunt toward third that Hill fielded before losing his balance and falling in the infield grass.
Albers got ahead of pinch-hitter Miguel Tejada before uncorking the pitch Santana couldn't corral, and the ball went to the backstop. It bounced off the padding to Santana, who quickly flipped to Albers covering the plate, but Johnson beat the tag.
Blanked for nearly eight innings by Carrasco, the Royals tied it in the eighth on Eric Hosmer's bloop RBI double off Shaw.
"For a fact, we were glad to see him out of there," Butler said of Carrasco. "He had as good of stuff as I've ever seen from him."
NOTES: Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez will pitch one inning for Double-A Akron on Tuesday in his second rehab appearance. Perez has been sidelined with a strained shoulder. Barring a setback, Perez will be activated Friday when the Indians open a three-game series with Minnesota. ... Indians 1B Nick Swisher missed his second game in a row with a sore shoulder. He received a cortisone shot and is not expected back until Friday at the earliest. ... Kipnis and RHP Corey Kluber shared the AL player of the week award for June 10-16. Kipnis batted .524 with two homers and four RBIs in six games, while Kluber went 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA over 16 innings. ... There were 349 dogs in attendance as the Indians hosted "Puppypalooza." ... The Indians are 18-8 at home since April 30.