STEVE HERRICK, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber allowed two runs and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings, and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Wednesday night, eliminating the reigning World Series champions from the AL Central race.
The Indians, who led Detroit by seven games in the division going into Wednesday, reduced their magic number for clinching the Central to five.
Carlos Santana was 4 for 5 with an RBI single in the eighth. Jose Ramirez drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with his third double of the game.
Kluber (18-9) matched his career high in wins and is 10-1 in his last 14 starts, strengthening his case to win his second AL Cy Young Award in three years.
Cody Allen allowed Salvador Perez’s leadoff homer in the ninth, but recorded his 28th save in 31 opportunities. Catcher Roberto Perez threw out pinch-runner Terrance Gore trying to steal second for the first out and Allen retired the final two batters.
Ian Kennedy (11-10) allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and lost for the first time since July 25.
The Royals reached the World Series in each of the last two years and defeated the Mets in five games to win their first title since 1985 last season.
Kansas City was favored to repeat as division champions, but dealt with injuries to key players all season. Perez, the Royals’ All-Star catcher, third baseman Mike Moustakas, left fielder Alex Gordon, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and closer Wade Davis all missed significant time.
The Royals haven’t been in first place since June 15 after they swept a three-game series from the Indians that moved the teams into a tie. Kansas City is 42-45 since and has fallen to third place.
Lonnie Chisenhall’s RBI single put Cleveland ahead in the second. Run-scoring singles by Kendrys Morales and Perez gave Kansas City the lead in the third when the Royals strung together four straight two-out hits.
Santana doubled to start the fifth and scored the tying run on Jason Kipnis’ double. Ramirez’s double to center broke the tie.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (broken right hand) has been fitted with a soft cast. He was struck by Ian Kinsler’s line drive Saturday.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas returned from Tommy John surgery and pitched three innings Saturday against the White Sox — his first appearance since July 21, 2015 — allowing one run.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger, who will be in the rotation down the stretch, starts the series finale. The rookie is 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in seven games, including four starts, at Progressive Field.
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