KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The hottest pitcher in the majors doesn’t dare stop to celebrate.
It’s just on to the next game for Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee, who is 4-0 with an almost nonexistent 0.28 ERA after shutting out Kansas City 2-0 for a doubleheader sweep Thursday night.
“I’m just going to continue to try to pitch the way I have been and ride it out until it stops,” said Lee, who struck out nine and did not issue a walk in the complete-game three-hitter.
“If I continue to locate my pitches, I should at least give the team a chance to win and get deep in the game, which is what a starting pitcher is supposed to do,” he said. “It feels nice to do my job and do what I’m supposed to.”
Lee faced only two batters over the minimum as the Royals lost their seventh straight game. In 31 2-3 innings over four starts, the 6-foot-3 Lee has allowed only one run. His nine strikeouts tied his career best. It was his first shutout and fourth career complete game.
“I felt like I was locating my fastball, and that was pretty much it,” he said. “I didn’t throw a lot of off-speed pitches. When I could tell they were kind of cheating for the fastball, I would mix one in. But for the most part, I was just trying to locate the fastball.”
He allowed a single in the second inning to Jose Guillen, a leadoff double to Guillen in the fifth and a two-out single in the ninth to David DeJesus. Lee, who battled injuries much of last season, threw 120 pitches, 86 for strikes.
In the opener, Grady Sizemore, Casey Blake and Jason Michaels all had two RBIs and powered the Indians to a 9-6 victory in their first series-clinching win since they opened the season by taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City starter Brian Bannister (3-2) faced only one batter over the minimum in the second game until David Dellucci hit his first pitch of the seventh inning over the fence in left. Travis Hafner followed with a double and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-out double. Bannister went 6 2-3 innings and was charged with two runs and four hits.
“I was matching him stride for stride,” Bannister said. “I was having fun. It’s tough to take a loss that way. I was pitching well and I wanted to be the last guy standing.”
Dellucci’s homer was the first earned run Bannister had allowed at home in 18 innings.
“We weren’t able to get quality swings and it’s because of Lee,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Guillen singled off Lee in the second and was erased in a double play. Guillen opened the fifth with a double, but Lee then struck out the side.
“I had to step up right there,” Lee said. “It’s a 0-0 game. I can’t allow that guy to score. I was lucky they swung through a few high fastballs they could have taken for balls. Yeah, looking back, that was one of the key parts to my having success tonight, getting out of that without any runs.”
“We started off on the wrong foot,” Hillman said. “It’s good to see us put some runs on the board. We couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Sizemore was 4-for-5 with three singles and a solo home run for the Indians. Blake, who sat the second game, followed his 4-for-4, six-RBI game on Tuesday night by reaching base three times, including two RBI singles.
Carmona gave up nine hits and four runs to improve to 4-0 lifetime against Kansas City. He walked four and struck out one.
“He battled. But he never gave in to it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He didn’t quite have the command you saw in his last start.”
Tomko (1-3) went four innings and allowed 11 hits and seven runs—six earned.
“Anytime you throw close to 100 pitches in four innings, that’s not a good thing,” Tomko said. “I didn’t take control of the count. I didn’t take control of the game. I felt I was backed in a corner. They put the heat on me.”
DeJesus and Miguel Olivo homered for the Royals as every starter for both teams had either a hit or scored a run, or both.
The Royals’ Billy Butler was 0-for-3 in the nightcap and failed to reach base for the first time in 22 games this year.
With RHP Jake Westbrook on the 15-day DL, the Indians will bring up RHP Jeremy Sowers from Triple-A Buffalo to start against New York on Saturday. … Royals SS Mark Grudzielanek did not play after being diagnosed with an irritated disc. Hillman said he was scheduled to see another doctor and is day-to-day. … Blake is hitting .325 lifetime in Kansas City but batting only .212 at home against the Royals. … The Indians have swept five of their last six doubleheaders.