Offense, bullpen key in Tribe win over Royals

Cleveland Indians' Michael Brantley, right, celebrates his two-run home run against the Kansas City Royals with Jason Kipnis (22) in the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, April 21, 2014, in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND– For the first time in nearly two weeks the Indians have posted back-to-back victories.

 The Indians got another solid outing from Zach McAllister and home runs from Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis as they rallied for a 4-3 victory over Kansas City in the start of a four-game series at Progressive Field.

 McAllister posted his third straight quality start as he went six-plus innings. The right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

 Said manager Terry Francona of McAllister’s night: "I thought for the most part, his fastball was 92-93 at the knees. That’s a good pitch. And then off of that he threw some offspeed pitches. The one inning that he gave up some contact, and we had a couple missteps, he kept making pitches and he didn’t come unglued. And then he went back out and pitched good again."

 McAllister, who improved to 3-0, has been the Tribe’s most consistent starter with an ERA of 2.28. After McAllister, the next-lowest ERA among an Indians starter is Justin Masterson at 4.98.

 In his last three starts, McAllister has allowed just three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts and only three walks. It is the third time in his career he has posted a three-game win streak.

 "I’ve been able to get the ball down pretty well," McAllister said. "They were an aggressive team today. Anytime you threw a strike, they were trying to put the ball in play. For me, I just executed good pitches and was able to mix a little bit."

 Mark Rezepczynski, Cody Allen and John Axford shut down the Royals for the final three innings. The bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in 10 2/3 innings and has a 2.63 ERA for the season. Axford, who had an efficient seven pitches in the ninth, leads the American League in saves with seven.

 In 10 appearances, Axford has an ERA of 3.12. Last year during the same span he had lost his job as the Brewers closer and had an ERA of 9.35.

 After struggling for most of the season, the top of the order had one of its best games of the season as the first five spots had eight of the 11 hits. Nick Swisher had two hits, both doubles to the opposite field, and Jason Kipnis also had two hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Indians the lead for good.

 Over the past eight games, Kipnis has gone 8 for 26 with two home runs and three RBI.

 Lonnie Chisenhall, who was batting cleanup for only the third time in his career, also had two hits and Michael Brantley homered for the second straight game. His two-run homer on a 2-1 changeup from Jeremy Guthrie gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead in the fourth. It is the third time in his career that

 Of the Indians’ 11 hits, seven were for extra bases, which is a season high.

 "It was nice to go out and get everyone in a rhythm. I think for us the middle of the lineup was doing a lot of damage today and everyone was clicking on all cylinders," Swisher said. "Anytime you have a pitcher going deep in a game and giving you a chance to win its big."

 The only two things that didn’t go well were the Indians inability to shut down the Royals in the fifth and committing three errors.

 When Kansas City took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, it marked the 14th time in 31 opportunities that the Indians have seen their opponent score runs in their first at-bat.

 "What we did the last week or two weeks ago, I just don’t buy the trends. I think every game is different," Francona said. "I agree, though, that when you score, the next inning is really important, the shut-down inning. And we certainly need to do better."

 Jason Giambi, who was activated off the disabled list before the game, was 0 for 4.