The Cleveland Indians found the perfect way to avoid a winless homestand.
Corey Kluber took a shutout into the ninth, and rookie Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer and had a career-high four RBI in a 12-1 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
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"We needed a day like today," said manager Terry Francona, who was ejected in the fifth inning. "That’ll help us. Now we need to carry it over."
Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and rookie Giovanny Urshela hit solo homers for the Indians, who had been outscored 37-10 in losing the first six games of the homestand. Michael Bourn was 4 for 5 as Cleveland had a season-high 18 hits.
Four losses to the Chicago White Sox and two more to the Royals dropped the Indians to last place in the AL Central.
"It was very important for us to get our confidence back," Lindor said. "We’ll take the things we did the right way and try to do it again tomorrow."
Kluber (6-11) held Kansas City to five hits in his second career complete game. The reigning Cy Young Award winner retired the first 12 batters before Eric Hosmer’s leadoff double in the fifth. Alex Rios’ RBI groundout in the ninth scored the Royals’ only run.
Kluber, who struck out six and walked one, had been 0-3 against Kansas City this season.
"I guess they’ve had success against me earlier in the year being really aggressive," Kluber said. "They have the best record in the league. They’ve been hot for a while."
Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed three home runs — all in the sixth inning — and hit three batters, including Brantley in the fifth. Brantley got even with his home run, which he admired from the batter’s box before slowly trotting around the bases.
Francona was ejected by plate umpire Tom Woodring after Brantley was hit in the leg. Francona was upset that Guthrie wasn’t ejected because Woodring had warned both benches after the Royals pitcher hit Jason Kipnis in the back in the second inning.
Kipnis exchanged words with catcher Drew Butera as he walked to first base. Guthrie also hit Gomes with the bases loaded in the first.
The issues between the teams began Monday when Indians pitcher Cody Anderson hit Jarrod Dyson, prompting a warning to both dugouts.
The Royals, who had won 16 of 21, still had a good stay in Cleveland, acquiring ace pitcher Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist.
"You’re going to have some highs and lows along the way, but the reality is we’ve got the second-best record in baseball (behind St. Louis) at this point," manager Ned Yost said.
The Indians’ first-inning run gave them their first lead of the homestand. Cleveland hadn’t led since July 22 against Milwaukee, a stretch of 54 innings.
GETTING THE BOOT
Francona’s discussion with Woodring didn’t last very long before the manager was ejected for the third time this season.
"I didn’t think that was appropriate. I think they protect the younger umpires. If he’s old enough to throw me out, he’s old enough to listen to what I say," Francona said.