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Indians' three-run seventh decides pitchers' duel

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- Another good night for Cleveland starter Corey Kluber and a rare bad night for the Kansas City bullpen led to the Indians' 3-0 victory over the Royals on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Held scoreless and nearly hitless for the first six innings, the Indians erupted for three runs in the seventh inning against Kansas City's league-leading bullpen and Cleveland's pitchers made it stand up for the team's American League-leading 12th shutout of the season.

Kluber (7-5) pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and gave up three hits to get the win.

"Kluber was really good," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Joe Smith and Cody Allen combined for the last four outs, with Allen picking up his second save of the season. Allen pitched the ninth because Cleveland closer Chris Perez had pitched in four of the last five games and was unavailable.

Allen labored through a 33-pitch ninth inning but finally struck out Jarrod Dyson with the bases loaded to end the game.

"He made it interesting. When he got up to 30 pitches, it makes you nervous, but he didn't back down," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

Royals starter Bruce Chen pitched six scoreless innings and gave up one hit, but Kluber was just as stingy and the game was scoreless through six.

"I'm very happy with the way I pitched," Chen said. "I did everything I could to help us win, but Kluber was just a little bit better."

Coming into the game, Kansas City's 2.87 bullpen ERA was the best in the AL by a wide margin. However, in the top of the seventh, Jason Kipnis greeted reliever Tim Collins (2-4) with a single to left field. Nick Swisher also singled, putting runners at first and second with no outs.

Aaron Crow relieved Collins and Carlos Santana lined a single to center to score Kipnis with the first run of the game. Mark Reynolds reached on a bunt single to load the bases.

"I think that bunt caught our dugout, the Kansas City dugout and everyone in the stands by surprise, but it may have won the game," Francona said.

Michael Bourn, pinch hitting for Ryan Raburn, belted a double to center field that scored Swisher and Santana to make it 3-0.

Bourn was not in the starting lineup because he was being given a scheduled day off.

"He had a day off, but he came ready to contribute and got a huge hit for us," Francona said.

"That pitch to Bourn was down and in, almost on the ground when he hit it, so that was just a great piece of hitting by him," Crow said.

Kluber struck out eight, walked three and retired the side in order in four of the seven full innings he pitched.

"I was able to get ahead in the count and pound the zone," he said.

Chen pitched six innings and retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced. He walked one, and the only hit he gave up was a double by Santana leading off the fifth. Chen threw 97 pitches and did not allow a runner to reach third base.

"I've seen him do that for so many years. You try to do too much and it plays right into his hands. He really knows how to pitch," Francona said.

Chen was making his first start of the year after 19 appearances out of the bullpen. The 36-year-old left-hander is no stranger to starting and is the Royals' winningest pitcher in the last three years with 35 victories.

Chen breezed through the Indians' lineup in the early going, holding Cleveland scoreless and hitless through the first four innings until Santana got Cleveland's first hit, a double leading off the fifth. Chen stranded Santana at second, however, as the game was scoreless through the first five innings.

Kluber made his biggest pitches in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff triple to David Lough and then walked two of the next three batters but escaped the inning without giving up a run.

"I think I went to my changeup too much in that inning, but I was able to step back take a deep breath and get out of it," Kluber said.

NOTES: Before Friday's game, the Indians optioned pitcher Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus and recalled reliever Chen-Chang Lee from Columbus. ... Indians pitcher Zach McAllister will make his first minor league rehab start on Saturday for double-A Akron. McAllister has been on the disabled list since June 8 with a sprained right middle finger. ... Pitcher Wade Davis left the Royals and was placed on the paternity list to be with his wife Katelyn, who is expecting the couple's first child. ... After hitting one home run in his first 61 games, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has hit eight home runs in his last 25.
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