Bruce Chen worked five innings and Salvador Perez doubled home two runs and the Kansas City Royals beat the Indians 7-2 on Wednesday night.
The Indians open a six-game homestand today with the first four games against the Houston Astros, who have already lost 100 games.
Then they close the season with two home games against the Chicago White Sox and four at Minnesota. They trail Texas by a half-game for the second wild-card spot.
“It’s not great, but they’re a good team,” first baseman Nick Swisher said after losing two of three at Kauffman Stadium. “We had a good road trip, 5-2.
We’ll take that every time and now we’re going home.
“We’re kind of playing against spoiler teams and that’s what they’re going to try to do to us, spoil it for us. We have to find that bottle of Red Bull energy.”
Chen was pulled in the sixth after giving up a single to Michael Bourn and walking Swisher to lead off the inning.
“It’s what he always does,” Swisher said of Chen. “It was nothing special. He’s one of those guys where you get yourself out. You get what you see from the guy.”
Francisley Bueno replaced Chen and recorded two outs with three pitches.
After Jeff Kipnis advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Bueno got Carlos Santana to ground out to third baseman Mike Moustakas. Louis Coleman came in and retired Ryan Raburn on a fly to right to strand the runners.
“Down two, I thought we had a lot of opportunities.” Swisher said. “We had chances. I think we can step it up and with the veteran leadership we have here, myself and Jason (Giambi) and Michael (Bourn), we can get into these guys’ heads and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Royals relievers Tim Collins, Will Smith and Greg Holland preserved the lead, allowing just one hit, to keep the team’s playoff chances alive.
“We had chances,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously if we cash in we go to different guys out of the pen.”
The Royals broke the game open with three runs off four Indians pitchers in the eighth. Alcides Escobar had a two-run single, while Jarrod Dyson walked with the bases loaded.
Rookie Danny Salazar (1-3), who had allowed just one run in 13⅔ innings in his first three September starts, took the loss, giving up four runs and six hits in six innings.
“I think it was a good road trip,” Salazar said. “We got five out of seven and now we go back home. For me it’s very exciting. I know I’m here to do the very best I can to get to the playoffs and the wild card.”
The Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first with Perez’s two-out double, scoring Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Perez went to third on the throw home and scored on a Salazar wild pitch.
The Indians scored a pair of runs in the third. Yan Gomes came home after center fielder Dyson had trouble picking up Michael Brantley’s double. Brantley wound up scoring on Bourn’s sacrifice fly.
“We’ve got to keep moving forward,” Gomes said. “These guys play good. It was kind of a big series, but maybe we’ll learn from it and play a good series against Houston and give us a chance to get to the playoffs.”
The Royals used a double steal in the fifth for their fourth run. Escobar avoided the tag of catcher Gomes to steal home, while Alex Gordon, who was initially caught in a rundown, stole second.
Escobar became the first Royal to steal home since Jeff Francoeur on Aug. 11, 2012, at Baltimore.
Indians RHP Justin Masterson, a 14-game winner who is out with an oblique strain, threw 120 feet in long toss and made 20 to 25 pitches off flat ground.
* The Indians won the season series from the Royals for the ninth time in 10 years.
* The Royals recalled LHP Chris Dwyer, who allowed one single and struck out eight in seven scoreless innings for Omaha in the Triple-A 2-1 championship victory over Durham on Tuesday, and IF Irving Falu, who hit .256 in 135 games with the Storm Chasers. Falu was with Kansas City for one day, Aug. 11, but was optioned back to Omaha the next day without playing.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Houston
WHERE: Progressive Field
PITCHERS: Jimenez (12-9, 3.49 ERA) vs. Keuchel (6-9, 5.17)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM