CLEVELAND (AP) — Aaron Civale struck out a season-high nine over seven innings and Josh Bell hit a two-run homer, sending the Cleveland Guardians to a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Civale (3-2) allowed two hits and did not walk a batter while throwing 100 pitches, 70 for strikes. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.56 in his seventh start since missing two months with a strained left oblique.
Trevor Stephan worked the eighth and Emmanuel Clase picked up his 25th save, wrapping up the two-hitter. Cleveland (44-44) won its second straight and improved to .500 for the first time since April 28, when it was 13-13.
The game was completed in 1 hour and 51 minutes, making it the shortest nine-inning contest in the history of Progressive Field, which opened in 1994.
Bell’s blast onto the home run porch in left came off Royals starter Daniel Lynch (2-4) and extended the Guardians’ lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Josh Naylor singled home Amed Rosario in the first, then singled and scored on Bell’s ninth homer of the year.
Naylor and Bell are responsible for 35.7% of Cleveland’s RBIs, the most by a duo in the majors. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor of the Mets are second at 30.7%.
Bobby Witt Jr. doubled in the fourth, MJ Melendez doubled in the fifth and Maikel Garcia walked in the ninth for Kansas City’s only baserunners.
The Royals are 0-5 on their seven-game trip, totaling 26 hits while being outscored 31-8. Lynch gave up three runs and six hits in six innings.
Civale struck out Salvador Perez and Nick Pratto in all six of their plate appearances. Pratto was caught looking all three times, the last of which caused his frustration to surface. He was ejected by plate umpire Brennan Miller.
Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia fouled a pitch off the right side of his face in the fourth, but remained in the game.
BREATHER FOR BO
Guardians C Bo Naylor received one-on-one instruction from hitting coach Chris Valaika before the game and was not in the lineup.
The rookie and younger brother of Josh Naylor is batting .149 with 18 strikeouts in 47 at-bats since he was recalled on June 17 from Triple-A Columbus.
“Catchers have a lot on their plate, so we’re trying not to give him too much,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got some adjustments to make, and we think he can.”
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (right shoulder impingement) has made two starts among three rehab appearances for Triple-A Omaha, going 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. Keller has not pitched for Kansas City since May 15 at San Diego.
Guardians: Clase will not pitch in the All-Star Game in Seattle in order to spend time with his pregnant girlfriend in the Dominican Republic.
Royals RHP Brady Singer (5-7, 5.52 ERA) takes on RHP Gavin Williams (0-1, 3.79 ERA), the Guardians’ top prospect, who has limited opponents to a .185 average over his first three big league starts.