CLEVELAND — It was a perfect night Saturday at Progressive Field for the Indians.
And it had nothing to do with the weather — though that was ideal as well.
Third-place Cleveland clicked in pretty much every department against the second-place Royals, paving the way for a 7-3 victory that left the Indians three games behind Kansas City in the Central Division standings.
The Indians got timely hits — even one from the struggling Nick Swisher — played impeccable defense and got just enough pitching to win for the third time in four games.
No one was more pleased with the outcome than starting pitcher T.J. House, who finally notched his first big league win in his eighth try (seventh start).
House allowed three runs on nine hits, while striking out three over 6⅔ innings.
His postgame reward was a beer bath from his teammates, who put House in a cart, pushed him into the showers and doused him with ale.
“The time came and it was the right time,” House said. “The family’s excited. I’m definitely learning with experience.”
“T.J.’s pitched well enough to have a win before now, but your first official win, I’m sure that is very special,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s come a long way in a year. He’s certainly showed he can compete and get major league hitters out. His poise has been excellent.”
The Indians made quick work of Kansas City starter and former Cleveland draft pick Jeremy Guthrie, who departed in the fifth inning after allowing a two-out, two-run single to Swisher that put the Indians in front 6-1.
Cleveland scored three times off Guthrie in the third inning to take the lead after House allowed a run in the first.
Of the Indians’ nine position players, five — Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall — had multihit games. Kipnis, Brantley and Chisenhall drove in runs.
Chisenhall went 2-for-3 and ranks third in the majors with 35 RBIs over his last 39 games.
Brantley produced his team-leading eighth three-hit effort of the season.
“I thought we did a good job. We didn’t just settle for one (run),” Francona said of his offense. “I thought we took what (Guthrie) gave us.”
House was far from dominant, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in four of the seven innings he worked. The left-hander’s best damage control came in the fifth and sixth innings.
He allowed the first two hitters to reach on singles to start the fifth, but Billy Butler was thrown out by Michael Bourn trying to advance to third on Danny Valencia’s base hit, before House retired two straight.
Kansas City loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but House allowed just a run on a fielder’s-choice grounder before striking out Butler to end the inning.
House and the rest of the pitching staff got quality defense and a pair of gems. Right fielder David Murphy made a diving catch in the seventh, and Kipnis made a diving stop at second in the eighth.
“They were finding some holes, but the guys played great behind me,” House said.
“I thought we played outstanding defense,” Francona said.
There was a potential imperfect ending to the night, with Bourn, who hit his third home run of the season for Cleveland’s first run to lead off the third, leaving the game after straining his left hamstring while rounding third to score in the eighth inning.
Francona said the injury is in a different area than the spot Bourn had surgically repaired this offseason, but it is likely that he will not play in the series finale today.