Indians 5, Royals 4
With just under four weeks remaining, the Cleveland Indians continue to hang around in the AL Central.
Justin Masterson worked seven strong innings, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Donald both homered to lift the Indians to a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Masterson (11-8) allowed seven hits and four runs as the Indians (69-66) equaled last year's win total and remained 5 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the division. The longer Cleveland stays close to the Tigers, the more exciting Masterson figures it's going to be in September.
''Why not? You're here, you're playing. There's a lot of good things going on right now,'' he said. ''It's going to be fun as we continue on, especially with as many games as we have left in the division.''
The Indians jumped to a 5-0 lead, but had to hang on after Masterson departed with Cleveland up by one. Vinnie Pestano came on after Kansas City had scored in three consecutive innings and stopped the Royals cold with a perfect eighth. Closer Chris Perez got Kansas City in order in the ninth for his 31st save.
''Masterson threw the ball well, but those guys have a very good lineup,'' Indians manager Manny Acta said of the Royals. You can't fall asleep or they will put some runs up on you right away. Our bullpen was clutch again.''
Acta was particularly impressed by Pestano, who struck out both Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur while working a clean eighth.
''Just a tremendous inning,'' Acta said ''When you have a one-run lead and you have to go through Butler, (Eric) Hosmer and Francoeur, that's a pivotal inning.''
Pestano has allowed just one run over his last 16 outings. The right-hander knew he needed to be sharp to hold off the heart of the Kansas City order.
''You are dog-paddling in the water, hoping to keep your head up,'' Pestano said.
Royals starter Bruce Chen (10-6) gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings. When Masterson and Chen matched up in Cleveland last Sunday, it was Chen who had the upper hand in a 2-1 Kansas City victory.
Not this time.
The Indians went to work in the first, producing two runs on three hits. Carlos Santana's run-scoring double and an RBI single by Jim Thome put the Royals in a hole that would get much deeper.
Cleveland struck again in the third against Chen, who had gone 5-1 in six August starts. A leadoff single by Kosuke Fukudome and Cabrera's two-run homer that barely eluded the outstretched glove of a leaping Alex Gordon in left staked Masterson to a 4-0 lead.
Cabrera fouled a pitch off his left knee early in his at-bat and hobbled out of the batter's box. He homered shortly after that but left the game favoring his knee in the bottom half when he had trouble moving laterally in the field on a grounder.
Donald homered in the fourth before the Royals made a bid to climb out of a five-run hole. Kansas City used a run-scoring single by Alcides Escobar in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Hosmer in the sixth to close to 5-2.
The Royals applied more pressure in the seventh when Alex Gordon launched a two-run homer to straightaway center.
''You can't give Masterson a five-run lead,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''When Masterson gets you through seven, they have Pestano and Perez to come in (and) it's a tall order.''
Notes: Indians manager Manny Acta said the club is still weighing options regarding right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who has been on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. In response to a Venezuelan newspaper report in which Indians minor leaguer Hector Rondon said his countryman Carrasco might need Tommy John surgery, Acta said: ''As far as I know, we're still gathering information and different opinions on Carrasco. We haven't made the decision just yet.'' ... Royals C Salvador Perez was back in the lineup after missing one game with a sprained pinkie finger on his right (throwing) hand. Perez hurt the finger on a play at the plate Wednesday against the Tigers. ... The Indians recalled RHP Josh Judy from Triple-A Columbus. In three previous stints with the Indians this year, Judy had a 2.25 ERA over four combined innings. ... David Huff (2-2) takes the mound for Cleveland on Saturday against Kansas City's Luke Hochevar (9-10).