CLEVELAND -- The Indians headed into this series against the Royals with a chance to gain ground in the American League Central. Cleveland did more than that, using a 7-0 win on Sunday at Progressive Field to complete a sweep of the four-game set to move 1 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City in the division.
Kansas City starter Chris Young allowed four home runs and Cleveland ace Corey Kluber spun a six-inning gem, helping the Tribe notch its fifth straight win to finish off a 6-4 homestand. The win came with a three-plus hour rain delay that interrupted play in the middle of the sixth inning.
"I thought he pitched in both lefties and righties," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And he commanded extremely well. He used both sides probably as good as he has and just really pitched. His command was so good."
Mike Napoli hit his 14th home run in the fourth, and Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin each went deep in the fifth off Young in support of Kluber's performance. Kluber yielded only two first-inning singles and finished with six strikeouts and two walks in his fifth victory.
"I mean, from the way we started our homestand to how we finished, it's nice," Napoli said. "Especially doing it against Kansas City, they were ahead of us. Being able to have a good series. Just want to win the series, but we put ourselves in position to sweep. We had a good day today. It's definitely a good feeling going on a long trip."
After Kluber set down the Royals in the top of the sixth, the game moved into a rain delay that lasted three hours and 10 minutes.
"We just didn't play well here," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We didn't do anything really exceptionally well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Power of three: Cleveland played home run derby against Young in the fifth, with Naquin, Santana and Lindor each going yard off the right-hander to push the Royals behind, 5-0. It marked the first time since July 29 last season (also against Kansas City) that Cleveland belted at least three homers in the same inning.
"We were talking about it in the dugout," Francona said. "You could see that part of the ballpark was going to play small. It's why it's kind of nice to spread it out a little bit because that can work for both sides." More >
An unwelcome return: In his first start since May 9, Young had his moments. Through three innings, he allowed one run and struck out three. Things went downhill over the next two innings, as Young gave up a homer in the fourth and then three in a 16-pitch span in the fifth. He left the game having allowed five earned runs for just the third time since June 21, 2015.
"I need to be better," Young said. "It's frustrating. I feel like it's been the way my season is going."
Young said he felt he pitched well until the fifth inning. He said he saw the first home run as a fly ball that carried, but took responsibility for the other three.
"My slider got fast and they punished it," Young said. More >
No place like home: Napoli's opposite-field shot to open the fourth gave him six home runs and 12 RBIs on Cleveland's 10-game homestand. In 29 games at Progressive Field this season, the first baseman has launched 10 homers, knocked in 32 runs and posted a .637 slugging percentage.
"Sometimes the wind is blowing in," Napoli said. "You hit a ball really well and it knocks it down. You really can't control. I was trying to stay right-center. It happened to get under it and carry it out."
Shaking off the rust: After the rain delay, the Royals defense was tested almost immediately with the Indians' first successful swing of the bat. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall lined a shot to shallow center, but Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson was able to rob him of a hit with a smooth diving catch, despite getting a late jump on the ball.
"It was a fly ball, and it's hard to tell how far it's going out and how far away he is from it," said right-hander Scott Alexander, who was pitching at the time. "But he's really fast and athletic, so I had faith he was going to catch it."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Naquin's solo shot in the fifth inning gave him one home run in each of the past three games for Cleveland. The outfielder became the first Indians rookie to homer in at least three consecutive games since Kipnis achieved the feat from July 31-Aug. 3, 2011.
Young's rate of 3.7 home runs allowed per nine innings is the highest mark among Major League pitchers with at least 30 innings thrown this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: The Royals will head east to Baltimore for a road series against the Orioles. Left-hander Danny Duffy (1-0, 3.44 ERA) will take the mound on Monday at 6:05 p.m. CT, for his fifth start of the season after beginning the season in the bullpen.
Indians: Cleveland will head to Seattle to begin a 10-game road trip. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.27 ERA) will take the mound on Monday at 10:10 p.m. ET in the opener of a four-game set. Bauer has allowed three or more runs in his last four starts. He is 0-4 with a 6.94 ERA in five games against the Mariners in his career.