Royals roll past Indians 9-4 to complete 3-game sweep
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals won six straight games to take the AL Central lead, then dropped eight straight to lose it.
Now, they're riding another five-game winning streak.
"Yeah, to say we're streaky - it's kind of crazy how it's going," said Ian Kennedy, who pitched Kansas City to a 9-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night to polish off a three-game sweep.
The Royals have won nine straight at home, their best stretch since 2003.
Salvador Perez hit a three-run shot during a go-ahead fifth inning against Corey Kluber (6-7), while Eric Hosmer added two RBIs and Whit Merrifield remained hot to pace the Kansas City attack.
"We were on the attack early," Hosmer said. "We took advantage of getting a lot of guys on base."
Kennedy (5-5) allowed just five hits, including two-run homers by Rajai Davis and Michael Martinez, as he pitched into the seventh inning. He won for the first time since beating Cleveland on May 7.
Even with the two long balls, the Indians only managed seven runs the entire series.
Kluber gave up more than that in five innings Wednesday night. The 2014 Cy Young winner matched a career high by allowing eight runs and nine hits in a performance nearly as shoddy as his defense, which made two errors and probably could have been charged with a couple more.
"Yeah, to get swept is disappointing," Kluber said. "We didn't play very well these three games."
Merrifield, who homered in each of the first two games, got the Royals going again with a base hit in the first inning. Consecutive doubles by Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain gave Kansas City a 2-0 lead.
Kluber also ran into trouble in the second inning, though it was caused by consecutive errors by second baseman Jason Kipnis and third baseman Martinez. Kluber bounced back to strand runners on second and third, then went through a stretch of six batters in which he struck out five.
"He's tough," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's just tough."
The Indians tied it in the fifth when Kennedy failed to cover first base on Martinez's grounder up the line. Moments later, Davis sent a 1-2 pitch soaring over the wall in left field to tie the game.
That only lasted until the bottom half of the inning.
Drew Butera blooped a double to right that fell between Cleveland fielders, then reached third on a groundout before scampering home for the go-ahead run on Kluber's wild pitch. Hosmer and Cain added singles, and Perez swatted his 11th homer of the season to center field.
Perez hit a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning of the Royals' 3-2 win Tuesday night.
Kansas City (35-30) added three more runs in the sixth to put the game away, and move into a tie with the Indians for first place in the division.
"Very disappointing. We swept them at home and they return the favor," Kipnis said. "I thought this entire series was more on the position players. I think the pitching staff did an outstanding job. You can't ask for much more from the pitching staff."
The Indians had not been swept at Kauffman Stadium since July 31-Aug. 2, 2012. They have lost six of their last nine after winning their previous six, trending in the opposite direction of the Royals. Part of the problem has been sloppy fielding - they have five errors in their last five games.
The Royals designated INF Omar Infante for assignment, likely ending his tenure in KC. Infante has struggled with injuries since signing a $30.25 million, four-year deal. Unless he is traded or claimed on waivers, both unlikely, the Royals would owe him the remainder of $7.75 million due this season, $8 million on his contract next season and a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season.
Royals OF Alex Gordon (broken right hand) took batting practice for the first time since landing on the DL on May 23, even hitting a homer into the fountains. Gordon does not know when he will begin a rehab assignment but said "it should be coming soon." ... Royals RHP Kris Medlen (right rotator inflammation) made first rehab start Wednesday for Northwest Arkansas. He threw two scoreless innings.
Royals LHP Danny Duffy opens a four-game series against Detroit on Thursday night, while Cleveland takes the day off before beginning a three-game set against the White Sox on Friday night.