CLEVELAND - Cleveland's bullpen had its ups and downs in the first half of the season, but it finished the first half on a high note Sunday by anchoring the Indians' 6-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Five Indians relievers combined to pitch five scoreless innings giving up two hits as the Indians completed a three-game series sweep that sends them into the All-Star break on a four-game winning streak.
"Everyone is in good spirits. It's a great way to end the first half," said Indians All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, who was 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBIs and then quickly packed his bags to leave for New York as one of two Indians representatives on the American League All-Star team.
The Royals go into the break on a five-game losing streak.
"We've had a rough five games," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost of his players. "They can go take a break, regroup and hopefully come back and play more consistent baseball."
Neither starting pitcher made it past the fifth inning and neither was involved in the decision. Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez labored through four innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while Kansas City starter James Shields pitched five innings, but needed 113 pitches to do so. Shields gave up three runs on seven hits.
"On a normal day we probably would have left him in longer," said Indians manager Terry Francona of Jimenez. "But since we have the next four days off we knew we could empty the pen."
Shields said he was happy with the way he threw the ball.
"I don't feel like I struggled," he said. "I threw some really good pitches. I think I threw three change-ups that probably would have hit the dirt and they got base hits on them. They probably had about 20 foul-offs. That's a good team over there. They work really good at-bats."
The Indians scored first on a sacrifice fly by Kipnis in the first inning. The Royals took a 2-1 lead in the second, which began with a one-out infield single by Lorenzo Cain. David Lough singled Cain to second, and when Johnny Giavotella walked the Royals had the bases loaded with one out.
Cain scored on a sacrifice fly by Alcides Escobar and Lough scored on a two-out single by Eric Hosmer, giving Kansas City a 2-1 lead.
The Indians countered with a two-run third inning, and a 3-2 lead. Kipnis walked with one out, went to second on a groundout and scored on a single by Michael Brantley, who with two outs and runners in scoring position is hitting .385. Brantley then scored on a double by Carlos Santana to give the lead back to Cleveland.
But for the second time in the four innings he pitched, Jimenez gave up runs in the inning immediately after his teammates scored runs. Jimenez walked the first batter of the fourth inning then gave up a bunt single to the second batter in what became a two-run rally that gave the Royals a 4-3 lead.
Cleveland took the lead for good in the sixth inning with a three-run outburst against the Royals' bullpen. Lonnie Chisenhall led off the inning with a walk and Drew Stubbs singled.
Bourn's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third and they both scored on a double to center field by Asdrubal Cabrera off reliever Tim Collins (2-5), giving Cleveland a 5-4 lead.
"I wasn't looking for any certain pitch. I was just trying to put the ball in play, but I hit it good," Cabrera said.
Everett Teaford relieved Collins, and Kipnis greeted Teaford with a single, driving in Cabrera to give the Indians a 6-4 lead. Kipnis' two hits on the day bumped his average over the .300 mark. He came into the game hitting .297, but will go to the All-Star game hitting .301.
Rich Hill (1-1), the third of six Cleveland pitchers, got the win. Chris Perez, the fifth of five Indians relievers, picked up his 13th save.
Cabrera and Santana each had three hits to lead a 13-hit Indians attack.
Notes: Prior to Sunday's game the Royals activated pitcher Wade Davis off the Paternity List. ... To make room on the roster for Davis, pitcher J.C. Gutierrez was designated for assignment. In 25 relief appearances Gutierrez was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. ... The Indians have activated pitcher Blake Wood off the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Columbus. Wood had been on the DL all year as he completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. . . C Omir Santos was outrighted off the Indians' 40-man major league roster to the Columbus roster.