CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber struck out a career-high 11 and pitched a four-hitter for his first complete game, and David Murphy and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs apiece, leading the Indians to a 5-1 win over the Royals on Thursday.
Kluber (2-2) didn’t walk a batter and let Cleveland manager Terry Francona give some needed rest to his bullpen.
Murphy and Cabrera delivered big hits in the Indians’ five-run fifth off Bruce Chen (1-2), who controlled Cleveland’s lineup for four innings.
The Indians have won four of five to get back to .500.
The Royals scored an unearned run off Kluber in the seventh when Omar Infante singled and scored when Indians first baseman Nick Swisher made a half-hearted attempt at Mike Moustakas’ grounder, which got by him for an error and rolled all the way into the right-field corner.
Other than that, Kansas City’s hitters were unable to do much against Kluber, whose previous long outing was 8 2-3 innings last July against the White Sox. He’s 3-0 in four career starts against the Royals.
Chen coasted through four innings, dominating the Indians with a mix of off-speed pitches before they touched him for five runs and chased him in the fifth.
The left-hander retired 11 straight before Carlos Santana led off with a double, snapping an 0-for-16 slide with just his third hit in 48 at-bats. Michael Brantley followed with a single to center for his team-leading 19th RBI, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
The Indians didn’t stop there as Murphy slapped a two-run single to left, and Cabrera made it 5-0 with his double down the left-field line to end Chen’s outing.
It was Cleveland’s biggest inning this season, and it gave Kluber more than enough cushion to finish off the Royals.
Kansas City managed just one hit off Kluber in the first four innings, and then the Royals ran their way out of a scoring chance in the fifth.
Alcides Escobar singled with two outs and Jarrod Dyson followed with a base hit. Escobar hesitated rounding second, and his indecision cost him as Brantley threw him out from center trying to take third.
The Royals turned a nifty double play to end the first.
With a Cabrera at third, first baseman Eric Hosmer fielded Jason Kipnis’ hard grounder, stepped on first and threw home. Catcher Brett Hayes made a sweeping tag on Cabrera, who was called out. Crew chief Bill Miller called for a review to see if Hayes had blocked the plate, but the call was confirmed.
- Kluber’s complete game was the first for the Indians since Justin Masterson’s on June 30 last season.
- Brantley came in leading the Indians in virtually every offensive category, including batting average, runs, hits, steals and RBIs.
- The Indians and Cincinnati Reds entered the day as the only teams yet to play in an extra-inning game this season.
- Royals 1B coach Rusty Kuntz returned to the team after undergoing surgery surgery on his broken left arm. Kuntz was struck during pregame batting practice on Monday.
- The Royals open a three-game series in Baltimore on Friday with Yordano Ventura (1-1) facing Ubaldo Jimenez (0-3).
- The Indians are out West for a three-game interleague series in San Francisco.
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