By Jeffrey Flanagan and Robert Falkoff
KANSAS CITY -- Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the ninth inning as the Indians came back from a one-run deficit and beat the Royals, 3-1, on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
Both home runs came off closer Kelvin Herrera, who now has given up four home runs this season in 12 innings. Santana's game-winning homer came on a 98 mile-per-hour fastball from Herrera.
"I was focused on not trying to do too much," Santana said. "He throws so hard and I just wanted to make good contact."
It was Santana's first homer since April 15 and his eighth career go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later.
"We're fighting," Santana said. "We're fighting every game. There's a lot of competition here, and everybody wants to win. It's a tough game."
Santana was in a 0-for-14 drought against Herrera when he put Cleveland ahead in the ninth.
"The one thing with velocity, he can hit anybody's velocity," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who entered the game with an 8.87 ERA, dominated the Royals through seven innings, giving up three hits and one run. He walked none and struck out three.
Royals starter Jason Vargas went six-plus innings and gave up four hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out six.
"Vargy was awesome again," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Tremendous job getting us through six innings. Kept us in the game. Didn't give up anything."
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the fourth, scoring Lorenzo Cain, who had doubled.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Gordon catch: The Indians, down 1-0 in the seventh, were in position to take the lead. With runners on second and third and left-hander Matt Strahm in to relieve Vargas, Santana got jammed but sent a blooper toward short left that appeared would drop in for a two-run single. But Royals Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon made a sensational diving grab to rob Santana -- Statcast™ had the hit probability at 76 percent. Earlier in the inning, Hosmer made a superb play going toward the line to grab a tough grounder from Abraham Almonte. Hosmer tossed to Strahm covering first for the out.
Strahm gave a huge fist pump after the Gordon catch.
"I was pumped up," Strahm said. "That saved us two runs. When it was hit, I thought Esky (shortstop Alcides Escobar) had the best chance, maybe an over-the-shoulder catch like he's done so many times. But then Gordo came out of nowhere."
Tough-luck run: The Indians tied the game in the eighth off Joakim Soria, but it was a tough-luck inning for the Royals' reliever. With one out, Michael Brantley singled on a carom off Soria's leg that Statcast™ said had a 33 percent chance of being a hit. Edwin Encarnacion then singled with a weak grounder to the right side that had a 14 percent chance of being a hit according to Statcast™. Soria fanned Jose Ramirez to leave runners at first and third with two outs before Jason Kipnis singled home the tying run. More >
"At the time, [Soria] is probably the last guy you want to face when the shadows are coming over the stadium," Francona said. "Because of his change of speed and deception. Kip stayed on it. Once we got it tied, it was like 'OK, at least we can keep playing."'
All-Star catcher Salvador Perez left in the ninth inning after getting hit by a foul tip while catching in the eighth inning. X-rays were negative, and Yost said he did not believe it was serious. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Indians right-hander Cody Allen picked up the save on Saturday, it marked the 100th of his Major League career.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Mike Clevinger has been summoned from Triple-A Columbus to make his Major League season debut in the 2:15 ET rubber game on Sunday. Clevinger went 3-1 at Columbus with a 1.50 ERA, prompting the promotion.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (2-2, 3.89 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals to wrap up the three-game set with the Indians at 1:15 p.m. CT. Duffy gave up six runs and a season-high 10 hits in five-plus innings Tuesday against the White Sox.