CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber became the first 18-game winner in the majors this season, striking out 10 and pitching the Cleveland Indians past the Kansas City Royals 3-1 Wednesday.
The Indians moved closer to the third straight AL Central title and reduced their magic number for clinching the division to nine.
Kluber (18-7) allowed one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was pulled after throwing 105 pitches.
Cleveland used three relievers to complete the two-hitter. Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth for his eighth save since being acquired San Diego and 32nd this season.
Brad Keller (7-6) allowed three runs — one earned — in seven-plus innings and lost for the first time since Aug. 7.
The game began in sweltering conditions with the temperature at 91 degrees for the first pitch.
Edwin Encarnacion’s RBI grounder broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth. Greg Allen’s RBI single in the second gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead, and Kansas City tied it in the fourth on rookie Ryan O’Hearn’s triple.
Kluber retired the first 10 batters before Alex Gordon lined a double on a 3-2 pitch. Hunter Dozier struck out, but O’Hearn’s ling drive was over Allen’s head in center field.
Michael Brantley’s one-out single started the go-ahead rally. Shortstop Alcides Escobar couldn’t handle Yandy Diaz’s chopper and Brantley took third when the ball rolled into the outfield on the error. Encarnacion’s grounder put Cleveland ahead.
Jason Kipnis had a sacrifice fly and two hits.
Royals right fielder Brett Phillips was out of the lineup after running full-speed into the wall chasing Jose Ramirez’s fly ball Tuesday. He was removed from the game an inning later. Phillips was diagnosed with a bruised right shoulder.
Josh Donaldson was scheduled to play for Double-A Akron against Altoona in the first game of the best-of-five Eastern League playoffs on Wednesday. He’s on the disabled list with a strained left calf, which has prevented him from playing in a major league game since May 28.
Donaldson, acquired from Toronto on Friday, is eligible to be activated Sept. 11. It’s unclear how many minor league games he’ll play before joining the Indians.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (sore shoulder) will not pitch again this season after leaving his Tuesday start in the first inning. Duffy was on the disabled list from Aug. 13-23 with a similar injury and recently received an anti-inflammatory shot. “The doctors said he can’t have another shot for a while, so it makes sense just to shut him down,” manager Ned Yost said.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller (sore shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday in Toronto. He’s been on the disabled list since Aug. 29.
Royals: RHP Heath Fillmyer (2-1, 4.01 ERA) opens a three-game series Friday in Minnesota.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (8-3, 4.66 ERA) starts Thursday at Toronto.