- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - Danny Salazar pitched like an ace Friday night.

He allowed one run and struck out nine in eight innings, and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-1.

Salazar (6-3) held Kansas City to three hits and was in command, other than giving up Drew Butera’s leadoff homer in the third. As it turned out, that mistake woke up the pitcher.

“That made me mad,” he said. “I tried to throw a slider there. I just put it there instead of throwing it down in the zone. After that I started being aggressive.”

Yan Gomes homered in the second and Tyler Naquin hit his first major league home run in the seventh for Cleveland, which has won four of five over the defending World Series champions and trails the AL Central-leading Royals by a half-game.

Salazar’s five walks drove his pitch count to 113. Four of the free passes, including an intentional walk in the first, came in the first three innings.

“Even though he did have some walks his stuff was so good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “His last pitch was 97 or 98 (mph). When you’re throwing that hard and he starts throwing that breaking ball and changeup, that’s a lot of good weapons.”

Alcides Escobar, who singled in the sixth for his 1,000th career hit, was impressed with Salazar after the right-hander beat Kansas City for the second time this season, allowing one run in 16 innings.

“This guy is always very good against us, but his stuff was so nice tonight,” Escobar said. “His fastball was over 95 and the splitter was painting the outside. He did a real, real good job.”

Salazar has allowed two runs or less in nine of his 11 starts.

Francisco Lindor’s RBI single in the third off Edinson Volquez (5-5) broke a 1-all tie and sparked a three-run rally. Mike Napoli followed with an RBI double while the third run scored on Volquez’s wild pitch.

Salazar got a boost from his defense in the seventh when right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall fielded Cheslor Cuthbert’s hit off the wall and threw him out at second trying for a double.

“I love it,” Salazar said. “I was just jumping there.”

Gomes, who has seven home runs, is batting only .174 but his 27 hits have produced 27 RBIs.

Butera, filling in behind the plate for the injured Salvador Perez, hit his second home run of the series that briefly tied the game.

Volquez allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings for Kansas City, which is also playing without third baseman Mike Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon because of injuries.

BIG MOMENT

Naquin, a left-handed hitter, homered over the 19-foot high wall in left field.

“Awesome, man,” Naquin said. “Awesome. A major-league home run. No words that could describe that. I knew when I hit it that I hit it well enough to get it out. I always run hard. I’m always going to run hard. You never know.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: Manager Ned Yost expects Perez (bruised left thigh) to be behind the plate this weekend. Perez hasn’t played since being injured in a May 28 collision with Cuthbert.

Indians: C Roberto Perez (broken right thumb) is continuing his rehab at the Indians’ training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. Perez was injured on April 30 and is on the 60-day DL.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (4-3) threw seven shutout innings against the Indians at Progressive Field in a 7-0 win on May 7.

Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin (7-1) looks to bounce back from his first loss of the season. He allowed eight runs (four earned) against Texas on Monday.


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