Cleveland Indians shortstop Mike Aviles throws to home plate after catching a fly ball in the third inning against the Kansas City Royals. ASSOCIATED PRESS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yordano Ventura dominated the Indians for seven stingy innings, and the Kansas City Royals scored all of their runs on sacrifice flies in a 4-1 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday.
The four sacrifice flies tied a franchise record, and the Royals became only the second team to score four runs all on sacrifice flies since it became an official stat in 1954. The Expos did it in an 8-4, 14-inning loss to the Cubs on May 28, 1980, according to STATS.
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Kansas City won its fourth in a row.
Ventura (4-5) allowed six hits while striking out three without a walk to win back-to-back starts for the first time. The only run he allowed came in the sixth, when he gave up consecutive singles to start the inning and Carlos Santana hit an RBI single.
By then, Indians counterpart Trevor Bauer (1-3) had already allowed sacrifice flies to Jarrod Dyson, Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar. Billy Butler added another sacrifice fly off reliever John Axford in the seventh to complete the scoring.
The Indians loaded the bases off Wade Davis with nobody out in the eighth, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the threat. Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save.
The Royals (33-32) moved over .500 for the first time since May 18. They also jumped over Cleveland into second place in the AL Central as they embark on a trip that begins with the White Sox and concludes with the division-leading Detroit.
Lonnie Chisenhall had a pair of hits for Cleveland, extending his hitting streak to a career-best nine games. He’s had at least two hits in his last five.
Prior to the game, Indians manager Terry Francona recalled with disdain the last time his club faced Ventura — the young flamethrower’s debut last September. Ventura allowed one run over 5 2-3 innings, and at one point threw a pitch to Yan Gomes clocked at 102 mph.
“He’s got pretty special stuff,” Francona said. “Kind of hope we don’t see that today.”
Turns out he did. Ventura kept the ball down in the strike zone and forced the Indians to chop into a series of groundouts. He retired seven straight batters at one point, never allowing a ball to be hit out of the infield.
Nobody was more frustrated than Jason Giambi. With the Royals shifting their infield, the Indians DH grounded out to the exact same spot three straight times before popping out.
The Royals scored their first run when Dyson followed a double by Mike Moustakas and a single by Escobar with a sacrifice fly in the third. Nori Aoki followed with a single, and Infante hit his sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.
Escobar’s sacrifice fly came after a double by Salvador Perez and a single by Moustakas in the fourth, and Butler added his sacrifice fly after singles by Infante and Eric Hosmer.
That was enough to beat Bauer, who has still never won in seven road outings. The Indians starter allowed three runs on seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Escobar has hit in 10 straight games. ... Indians OF/1B Nick Swisher (left knee) planned to make a final rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Akron before joining the team Thursday in Boston. Asked if Swisher would be activated immediately, Francona said, “We’ll see.”