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Royals keep rolling behind Shields

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- This was Kansas City's latest big game, and they had the right pitcher on the mound.

"That's why they went out and got him," Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Bourn said after Royals right-hander James Shields dominated the Indians for eight innings while pitching Kansas City to a 6-2 victory on Wednesday.

The surging Royals, who started the day three games out of the second wild-card spot in the American League, won two of the three games in the series and have won 13 of their last 18 games since Aug. 25.

"To come in here and win a series against a tough Cleveland team was huge for us, especially considering where we are at this point of the season," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "Losses hurt now. You've got to try to really keep them at a minimum."

The Indians, who are also in the wild-card hunt, have lost three of their last four games and went 5-4 on a homestand that ended Wednesday.

Alex Gordon homered on the first pitch of the game and Shields (11-9) was almost untouchable. He gave up two runs in the first inning and then held Cleveland scoreless and hitless in the next seven innings.

Overall, Shields allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings, striking out seven and walking one.

"When he gets the lead, he's a bulldog out there," Bourn said.

Indians manager Terry Francona said, "He stayed out of the middle of the plate the whole day, pitched in, out and changed speeds on everything."

Shields' last start was a disaster. On Sept. 6 against Detroit, he gave up 10 runs and 14 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

"He comes off his worst start of the year and has arguably his best start of the year," Yost said. "He just literally put us on his back today and carried us."

Shields said, "I'm not worried about what's at stake. I'm worried about winning ballgames right now. I've been in this situation numerous times already and I go out there and pitch my game."

The Royals got off to a great start when Gordon belted the first pitch of the game from Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir into the seats in right field.

"He said he was going to do it. He picks his spots," Yost said of Gordon's home run. "That's two times in a row he said 'I'm going to go up there and ambush the first pitch and hit it out."

It was Gordon's team-leading 19th home run. Gordon, as a leadoff hitter, leads the Royals in home runs and RBIs (79).

"A fastball, low and away," Kazmir said. "I thought it was a good pitch, but he put a good swing on it."

Emilio Bonifacio followed Gordon's home run with a triple to right field. Bonifacio scored on Kansas City's third consecutive hit to start the game, a single by Eric Hosmer, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Kazmir retired the next two batters, but Jason Maxwell singled, moving Hosmer to second, and Hosmer scored on a single by Lorenzo Cain to make it 3-0.

The Indians answered when Bourn led off the Cleveland first with a single and Shields hit Mike Aviles with a pitch to put runners at first and second with no outs. Shields retired the next two batters, but Michael Brantley lined a single to center, scoring Bourn and Aviles to cut the Kansas City lead to 3-2.

Kazmir (8-8) survived the first inning and held the Royals scoreless in the next three innings. But after giving up singles to the first two batters in the fifth, Kazmir was removed from the game. In four innings, he gave up four runs and nine hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

"Scott was having trouble putting hitters away, and the way Shields was pitching we needed to stop it right there," Francona said.

The Royals made it 4-2 when Bonifacio scored on a double-play grounder by Billy Butler later in the fifth inning.

Kansas City stretched its advantage to 5-2 in the seventh when Gordon walked, went to third on a single by Bonifacio and scored on a throwing error by pitcher Rich Hill on a pickoff attempt at first.

An RBI single by Mike Moustakas in the eighth made it 6-2.

Greg Holland pitched the ninth inning to pick up his 42nd save.

NOTES: Gordon's home run leading off the first inning was his 13th career leadoff home run, the most in Royals history. ... The Royals had three more stolen bases to boost their season total to 139, the most in the majors by far. ... Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera was given a day off prior to striking out in a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth. Cabrera, mired in a 3-for-31 slump, is hitting .103 in September. ... The Indians, who are 11-2 against the White Sox this season, begin a four-game series in Chicago on Thursday.
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