Rafael Perez came on for the Indians to start the seventh, ending Josh Tomlin’s night after six innings and two runs and five hits surrendered. Tomlin fanned three and walked only one, leaving his ERA at 2.45.
Perez walked Brayan Pena with one out. but no further damage was done.
Frankly, it was nice to see an easy inning for the Indians’ bullpen against the pesky Royals.
Kansas City closer Joakim Soria came on in the bottom of the seventh, no doubt to get some work in, with the Royals having lost four straight and not having given Soria an opportunity to appear in a game since last Tuesday against the Tribe.
Soria surrendered a leadoff walk but then induced a double-play grounder from Austin Kearns and retired Jack Hannahan, and we went to the eighth with Cleveland still up by five runs.
Raffy Perez got the first two in the eighth — keeping his ERA at 0.00 for the season — and was lifted in favor of Joe Smith. Perez has now pitched 7 2/3 innings this year, surrendering only three hits.
Billy Butler greeted Smith with a single. Jeff Francoeur followed with a double to shallow right-center, sending Butler to third, and the inning which had started so innocently entered nervous-time.
But Smith was able to get Wilson Betemit on strikes looking to end the threat, and the Indians were one inning from moving to 15-8 on the season.
Jeremy Jeffress replaced Soria to begin the Cleveland eighth, and set the Tribe down one-two-three.
Barring a major Royals’ rally in the ninth, the offense for the Indians ended the night with eleven hits, with Shin-Soo Choo and Shelley Duncan leading the way with two hits apiece.
The Tribe called on Chad Durbin to try to close the game out. Durbin, with a 7.56 ERA and a five-run lead, could really use an easy inning, to — if nothing else — boost his confidence, and the confidence of the coaching staff to use him in a closer game.
Durbin got the first two Royals in short order, but gave up a single to Alcides Escobar with two outs and two strikes. but Durbin sealed the deal by getting Jarrod Dyson to fly out to end it.
Josh Tomlin gets the win to move to 4-0, and is only a bullpen letdown last week from being 5-0 along with Justin Masterson. The loss goes to Jeff Francis, who slips to 0-3 on the season.
With the victory, Cleveland moves back to seven games over .500 and sends Kansas City to 12-12 by dealing the Royals their fifth straight loss. And with Detroit about to lose again to Seattle, the Indians will find their lead in the Central Division increased to a season-high three and-a-half games when they wake up tomorrow.
On Thursday night Fausto Carmona will try to give the Indians their fourth sweep of the season when he squares off against Kansas City’s Kyle Davies, at 7:05