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Royals-Indians Preview

AP - Sports

The Cleveland Indians are the AL Central leaders, but they haven't been playing like a first-place team.

Perhaps a return to Progressive Field will help the Indians get back to their winning ways.

Cleveland tries to win a season-best fourth in a row at home Monday when it renews its division rivalry with the Kansas City Royals.

Entering a three-game weekend set with a 3 1/2-game cushion over the second-place White Sox, the Indians (26-21) left Chicago on Sunday with a half-game lead after losing 12-6.

Cleveland was outscored 35-16 in the series.

The Indians, though, have a chance to win four straight at home for the first time since Sept. 22-24 as they open a six-game stretch at Progressive Field that ends against the AL-worst Minnesota Twins.

Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.67 ERA) is expected to be removed from the disabled list and get the ball Monday. The right-hander hasn't pitched since May 7 due to right wrist soreness, but he didn't report any problems after a simulated game Thursday.

"I'm looking forward to (coming back)," Tomlin told the Indians' official website.

He might not be looking forward to facing the Royals (19-27). Tomlin has an 8.64 ERA in two appearances - one start - against Kansas City in 2012.

He'll face a Royals team that's continuing its nine-game trip after taking two of three from Baltimore. Kansas City had dropped seven of nine before visiting Camden Yards.

"I think we knew it was time to kind of get going here,'' right fielder Jeff Francoeur said after Sunday's 4-2 victory.

Francoeur will try to keep it going after extending his hitting streak to seven with a 2-for-4 effort, including his fourth homer in six games. He's batting .517 (15 for 29) during his streak.

"I hope he can sustain it,'' said designated hitter Billy Butler, who has homered in five of the last nine games.

Continued production from those two could benefit Monday's scheduled starter Nate Adcock (0-2, 2.33), who takes the mound for the first time in eight days.

In place of the injured Everett Teaford (lower abdominal strain), Adcock - pitching on three days' rest - threw five innings of one-run ball in his first start of the season, a 2-0 loss to Arizona on May 20.

Adcock makes his first start against the Indians after posting a 1.93 ERA in two relief appearances against them in 2011.

He should be careful pitching to Jason Kipnis, who was 6 for 12 with two homers and four RBIs over the weekend. However, the Indians second baseman is hitting .202 at home with two homers and eight RBIs compared to .365 with six homers and 20 RBIs away from Progressive Field.

"My splits at home are terrible," Kipnis told the Indians' official website.

Kipnis was 3 for 9 as Cleveland dropped two of three in the Royals' visit April 24-26.

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera said he doesn't expect to return to the Indians' lineup Monday after missing the last two games with a tight left hamstring. Cleveland is also expected to be without DH Travis Hafner (right knee) for a fifth consecutive game.

Butler is batting .395 (17 for 43) with two homers and eight RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus Cleveland.

Francoeur is 5 for 28 with no extra-base hits as Kansas City has lost four of six in this series in 2012.

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