KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Danny Salazar handled the Royals for the third time this season, the Indians roughed up Kansas City’s starter-by-committee and Cleveland rolled to a 7-3 victory Tuesday night to even their three-game series.
Salazar (11-3) allowed three runs over 6 2-3 innings while striking out seven. His latest starring role against the Royals came after the right-hander tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 7-1 victory in early May and allowed one run over eight innings in a 6-1 win last month.
Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer off Brian Flynn (1-1), and Carlos Santana drove in two runs off long reliever Dillon Gee, as the Indians snapped a five-game skid at Kauffman Stadium.
Francisco Lindor added a solo shot in the ninth for Cleveland.
The Flynn-Gee combo got the call for the Royals in place of ineffective fifth starter Chris Young. Flynn lasted 2 2/3 innings in his first start since August 2014, while Gee went the next 5 1/3 innings.
Then again, Cy Young would have had a tough time matching Salazar on another hot, humid night.
The right-hander didn’t allow a runner past first base through the first five innings, striking out Alex Gordon twice along the way. He seemed to falter in the oppressive weather in the sixth, when Salvador Perez drove in a run and Kendrys Morales scored on a wild pitch, but managed to escape the inning.
He gave up a sacrifice fly in the seventh before Kyle Crockett finished the frame.
Salazar pitched with the lead the entire way after Napoli’s homer in the first inning, his 21st of the year just skirting inside the left-field foul pole. But the rest of the Indians’ offense came from the same kind of small ball that carried the AL Central-rival Royals to the World Series title last season.
They scored a run in the second on a single, a walk and two sacrifices. The division-leaders added three more in the fifth on a double, three singles, a walk and a fielder’s choice.
Royals manager Ned Yost and Indians counterpart Terry Francona may change up their lineups for the finale on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees for the afternoon start with a heat index well into triple digits. “We’re going to see tonight who needs a break,” Yost said.
Indians: OF Michael Brantley will have an MRI on Wednesday after experiencing pain in his right shoulder. He had surgery last November and played in only 11 games this season before landing back on the DL. Brantley has been on a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron since July 11.
Royals: RHP Kyle Zimmer, one of the club’s top prospects, has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and will miss the rest of the season. The former first-round draft pick will have surgery in the coming weeks. The Mets’ Matt Harvey had surgery for the same condition Monday.
The Royals’ Ian Kennedy is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in daytime starts this season. He goes against fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA in seven road starts.