By Jordan Bastian and Jeffrey Flanagan
CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Kris Medlen turned in 6 1/3 strong innings and the Royals' bullpen did the rest, claiming a 2-0 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. The win was only the third in the past 11 games for Kansas City.
For Cleveland, the loss cost the club in the American League Wild Card race. The Indians, who have won 13 of their last 19 games to pull back into the postseason discussion, dropped to five games behind Houston for the second Wild Card spot.
The Royals trimmed their magic number to clinch the AL Central to nine, with second-place Minnesota losing to Detroit, 5-4. They also increased their lead over Toronto for home-field advantage throughout to three games.
"We just needed a win to stop the bleeding," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals did not do much damage against righty Josh Tomlin, but Salvador Perez's RBI single in the second and Alex Rios' solo homer in the fifth proved sufficient in light of Medlen's performance. The Kansas City starter scattered five hits with no strikeouts en route to the win.
"It's a big win," Rios said, "but we know what we can do and what we're capable of doing."
Tomlin was saddled with a hard-luck loss after allowing only two runs in a complete game, which included six strikeouts, four hits allowed and no walks issued. The Royals went 1-for-22 against the righty from the third inning on.
"He was so good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Tomlin. "Other than [a couple of mistakes], he just had such a good feel for everything: fastball, cutter, breaking ball. His breaking ball probably got better as the game went. He really pitched well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Lost and found:Mike Moustakas skied a pitch from Tomlin over foul ground behind home plate with two outs in the second, but Tribe catcher Yan Gomes lost sight of the ball, which dropped in to give the Royals' third baseman new life. Moustakas took advantage, doubling to the wall in center field, where outfielder Abraham Almonte also lost track of the ball. Moustakas then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Perez.
"I saw Yan didn't see it and looked up, and then I lost it," Tomlin said. "Neither one of us had a shot at that point. It's tough. ... Obviously, it's something that neither one of us could control -- we just couldn't see the ball. But, it's still my job to go out there and execute a pitch and get Moustakas out."
Sacrificing a rally: Royals closer Greg Holland walked Lonnie Chisenhall to open the ninth and then gave up a single to Gomes. Yost and a trainer made a quick mound visit, but Holland stayed in the game and halted Cleveland's progress. Mike Aviles did not help matters for the Indians when he popped up a bunt attempt, which Holland bobbled before flipping to third base for a forceout. The closer then retired Almonte and Giovanny Urshela to end the game.
"That's why he went up there, was to bunt," said Francona, when asked if he considered having Aviles swing away in light of Holland's early issues. "Then we would've had Almonte. And then, if we had guys in scoring position, we would've hit [Jose] Ramirez. If they weren't, we let Gio hit, because we were trying to get an extra-base hit."
Rios' hot trip: Royals manager Ned Yost has been hoping for Rios to heat up since coming back from contracting chickenpox, and now that appears to be happening. Rios came into the game 6-for-14 on the road trip with a homer and two doubles. On Tuesday, Rios slammed a solo homer off Tomlin in the fifth to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.
As Rios rounded the bases, fireworks began popping over Progressive Field by mistake. Television cameras caught the fireworks operator hanging his head in embarrassment as the local fans booed.
"I got around second base and I heard all this screaming from the fans," Rios said. "I thought maybe they had suddenly ruled it foul. But then I heard the fireworks. I don't think that's ever happened to me before on the road. That's really nice of them."
Madson cleans it up: Royals reliever Ryan Madson continues to squelch opponents' rallies. Over the weekend, Madson got out of a bases-loaded jam in Baltimore by striking out the dangerous Chris Davis. Tuesday night, Madson came into the game with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh. Madson promptly struck out Almonte and Urshela.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Medlen became the first pitcher to go at least six shutout innings with no strikeouts against the Indians since July 15, 1990, when Seattle's Bill Swift achieved the feat against the Tribe. Only one other Major Leaguer has had an outing consisting of six shutout innings and no strikeouts this season. Fellow Royals starter Danny Duffy also had that line on July 10 against Toronto.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Duffy (7-7, 4.14 ERA) takes the mound in Game 3 of the series on Wednesday (6:10 p.m. CT). The left-hander struggled to get through five innings at Baltimore on Friday, giving up two runs.
Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar (12-8, 3.57 ERA) is slated to take the ball in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt Wednesday at Progressive Field. Salazar picked up a no-decision last time out against Detroit, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing righty has a 6.23 ERA in his past four outings, following a seven-start stretch in which he had a 1.45 ERA.