CLEVELAND (AP) – Hunter Dozier homered in the first inning and Jakob Junis pitched two-hit ball through six innings as the Kansas City Royals beat Cleveland 1-0 on Saturday night, snapping the Indians’ six-game winning streak.
Dozier sent a 349-foot shot to right off Adam Plutko for his 15th home run. That run stood up as Junis and three relievers combined for a three-hitter and the Royals’ fourth shutout of the season.
Junis (6-8) struck out seven and walked three before being removed after 94 pitches on a steamy evening with a heat index of 99 degrees at the first pitch. The right-hander did not allow a runner past second base. He won for the first time in four 2019 starts against the Indians and retired 13 in a row between the second and sixth innings.
Scott Barlow and Jake Diekman followed, while Ian Kennedy worked a perfect ninth for his 17th save. Kansas City is 7-2 since the All-Star break, with Junis accounting for two of the victories.
Right-hander Plutko (3-2) worked a season-high seven innings, giving up two hits.
Cleveland, which entered the day three games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota, is an MLB-best 27-11 since June 4.
Francisco Lindor had a leadoff single in the first and Jason Kipnis started the sixth with an infield single to account for the only hits off Junis.
Kansas City’s Cam Gallagher had two doubles, but was picked off second base with no outs in the eighth by fellow catcher Roberto Pérez. It proved costly as Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon followed with back-to-back singles off Tyler Clippard.
Royals center fielder Billy Hamilton made a superb running catch in the sixth, robbing Lindor with a leaping grab before crashing into the wall.
Before the game, Kansas City designated for assignment former closer Wily Peralta. The right-hander went 2-4 with a 5.80 ERA in 42 relief appearances. Righty Josh Staumont was recalled from Triple-A Omaha.
The Indians are expected to be active before the July 31 trade deadline, but manager Terry Francona isn’t encouraging general manager Mike Chernoff to make moves. “I don’t feel it’s my place to ever say that because I think it’s disrespectful to the players we have,” Francona said. “I’ve actually been really having fun with this group.”
THE LONG GAME
The Royals kept RHP Brad Keller on their roster all of last season in order to retain him under the Rule 5 regulations. Their patience is paying off as he has a 1.80 ERA over his last three starts, covering 20 innings. “Right away, we saw that he had really, really good stuff,” manager Ned Yost said. “He has a great makeup, great competitiveness.”
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (right forearm fracture) is slated for a 25-30 pitch bullpen Sunday at Progressive Field. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner will exclusively throw fastballs in his second mound session since being struck by a line drive May 1 in Miami.
Royals: RHP Glenn Sparkman (3-5, 4.54 ERA) tossed a five-hitter for his first career shutout Tuesday against the White Sox. He is 0-3 with a 10.89 ERA in five road starts.
Indians: RHP Zach Plesac (3-3, 3.56 ERA) takes the hill in the three-game series finale. He threw three scoreless innings Tuesday against Detroit in a rain-shortened start.