KANSAS CITY -- The Indians stood up for Shin-Soo Choo on Saturday and Choo reciprocated by standing up for his teammates as well.
Choo's game-winning, two-run double off Greg Holland snapped a 10th-inning tie and lifted the Indians to an 11-9 victory on a wild night that had the Cleveland right fielder cast as the central character in a topsy-turvy plot.
When Choo was hit by Jonathan Sanchez pitch in the third inning, it triggered a crazy chain of events, which included both benches emptying twice, three Cleveland ejections and a Kansas City rally from a seven-run deficit to force extra innings.
But in the end, Choo's bat proved the difference in keeping the Indians from the growing possibility of a demoralizing loss.
Cleveland led 9-2 when the Royals gained momentum against a bullpen that faced a long night after starter Jeanmar Gomez was ejected for hitting Mike Moustakas in the third.
That development came after Sanchez had hit Choo. Last year, Choo was hit by a Sanchez pitch in San Francisco and suffered a broken left thumb.
Yuniesky Betencourt's solo homer off Vinnie Pestano tied it at 9 in the eighth, but Choo saved the night with his big blow against Holland. Chris Perez worked a clean ninth for the save.
"Always we try to win the game, but especially tonight," Choo said. "We have to win the game."
When Choo's drive to left-center left the bat, speedy Kansas City center fielder Jarrod Dyson felt he had a play. Dyson went to the wall and leaped high, but the ball eluded him as two runs scored.
"I didn't see the replay, but the guys told me the ball and the glove hit the wall at the same time," Dyson said. "I really didn't think it was going that far, but wind was a factor in the game.
"I couldn't really feel the ball because when I jumped up, I hit padding and I scraped the fence. But I feel like if it isn't out of the park, I've got to make that play."
Cleveland manager Manny Acta was ejected with Gomez and third baseman Jack Hannahan after the second altercation, and had to sweat it out from afar as the Royals kept closing a once-sizable deficit.
"I'm just glad we came out on top," Acta said. "We put a lot of runs on the board, but those [Kansas City] guys can swing the bat. They're never out of a game and they showed that today. Our bullpen is struggling a little bit."
The Indians seemed to still be in good shape pitching-wise when Gomez left, because starter Josh Tomlin was available to work out of the bullpen. But Tomlin surrendered six hits and five runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 innings.
The Royals threatened to end it in the ninth after Dyson drew a leadoff walk. But the Indians got a huge lift from catcher Carlos Santana as he threw out Dyson trying to steal second.
"It was close, but I was out," Dyson said. "I should have gotten a better jump."
The Indians started their winning rally with hits by Jason Donald and Jason Kipnis. Michael Brantley failed to sacrifice and Asdrubal Cabrera -- who went 3-for-6 on the night -- flied to center. That set the stage for Choo's winning hit.
"Fortunately, Choo came through," Acta said.
Although Gomez claimed he wasn't trying to hit Moustakas, the loss of Cleveland's starting pitcher changed the tone of the game and seemed to invigorate the Royals.
"I thought it came back to bite them, because obviously we came all the way back in the game and they burned their whole bullpen almost," said Kansas City first baseman Billy Butler.
Indeed, it could have turned into a second-guesser's feast if the Royals had won on a night when they once trailed by seven runs. But Choo made it a moot point with his big hit. One way or the other, the Cleveland right fielder was the focal point of the evening.
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.