KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Jeremy Guthrie tied a Kansas City Royals record for consecutive unbeaten starts as the overhauled rotation continues to set the tone for the first-place club.
Guthrie and two relievers combined to shut out the Cleveland Indians 9-0 Sunday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon homered for the Royals.
Guthrie (3-0) is 8-0 in his past 16 starts dating to Aug. 8. He tied Paul Splittorff's club record of 16 consecutive starts without a loss in 1977-78.
"Ultimately it means a lot because it means the guys behind me are confident that we're going to win," Guthrie said. "It's nice to have guys pitching so well, like Ervin (Santana) yesterday, to see him dissect the lineup gives me a blueprint for this game, and Salvy (Perez, Royals catcher) carried that one into the meetings today. We saw what worked."
Guthrie, who threw just 64 strikes in 112 pitches, allowed six hits, five of them singles, in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking three.
"It wasn't my best command, but I made my pitches," Guthrie said. "When I missed, it wasn't in the middle of the plate. My slider wasn't as sharp. I didn't throw as many strikes as I wanted to."
Justin Masterson (4-2) took the loss, giving up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings, while striking out nine.
"When he worked ahead and got to two strikes, he was crisp and electric," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He walked (Mike) Moustakas on four pitches twice and Escobar ambushed him on a first pitch fastball that drifted back over the plate and they're up 4-0. His stuff was good. The walks to Moustakas were big."
The Royals broke the game open with a three-run seventh when they batted around. The inning included Moustakas drawing his third walk, this one with the bases loaded, and an Eric Hosmer RBI single.
Gordon homered in the eighth with Chris Getz aboard for the final Kansas City runs.
After Masterson struck out the first two batters in the second, he walked Moustakas, who was hitting .152, on four pitches. Jeff Francoeur and Jarrod Dyson, the next two batters, stroked run-producing doubles.
Again in the fourth, Masterson retired the first two batters before walking Moustakas on four pitches. Francoeur had an infield single and Dyson's single to center scored Moustakas. Dyson's two-RBI game matched his career high, accomplished two other times.
"I think he had a force field around the strike zone for his first two at-bats," Masterson said. "I couldn't put it there. I have no clue why. It was unbelievable. See he turned the force field off for a second for a hit up the middle (on the first pitch in the sixth) and put it back on (for a walk on five pitches with the bases loaded off Matt Albers in the seventh).
"I'd rather not have a game like the one today. I ended up hanging some pitches up there and not finishing through a couple of pitches. Hopefully this is one of the outliers of the season. You're bound to have something like this."
Escobar homered to left in the fifth inning for his 500th career hit. He also drove in a run with a fielder's choice grounder in the eighth.
Moustakas, Francoeur, Dyson and Getz, the bottom four of the Royals' batting order, combined to go 6-for-12 with four walks, two doubles, five runs and four RBIs.
"It's a big lift when you get the guys down in the bottom of the order cranking it down there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It gets around to your big guys and that's when you score big. Then you've got balance and sequence all through your order."
The Indians, who were shut out for the third time this season, threatened in the sixth when Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Nick Swisher walked with one out, but Guthrie got out of it when Mark Reynolds grounded into a double play. The Indians went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners.
Notes: The Indians recalled catcher Yan Gomes and left-hander Scott Barnes from Class AAA Columbus. They placed catcher Lou Marson on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. This is the second time season he was placed on the disabled list. ...Royals righ-handed pitcher Ervin Santana is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts. He began last season 0-5 with a 6.16 ERA in April for the Angels.