KANSAS CITY — The Cleveland Indians have been waiting for Russell Branyan to break out of his power outage.
The wait is over.
Branyan hit a two-run homer and Fausto Carmona and three Cleveland relievers combined to help the Indians shut out the Kansas City Royals 4-0 on Wednesday night.
Branyan hit 31 home runs last season with Seattle, but had none this season before hitting three and driving in five runs in the past two games.
“Russell was big again today, the two-run homer gave us a cushion, which was very important,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We needed some thump in our lineup and he's a guy who can provide that. With a home run, there's no manufacturing. They come with one swing and he's swinging pretty good right now.”
Asdrubal Cabrera snapped an 0 for 16 skid with two-run single in the fifth inning.
“I had Cabrera 2-2 and I didn't make a very good curve ball to him,” said Kyle Davies. “It was probably one of the worst pitches I made the whole inning and it resulted in two runs,”
Carmona allowed five hits, walked two and struck out two in five scoreless innings, lowering his earned run average to 3.43. Carmona (4-1) is only one victory shy of matching his 2009 total when he went 5-12 with a 6.32 ERA. He stranded seven runners in the first four innings.
“When I had men on third and second, I don't think about it,” Carmona said. “I have to make a good pitch and get them out, not try to over throw.”
Relievers Aaron Laffey, Chris Perez and Tony Sipp limited the Royals to four more hits over the final four innings.
The Royals have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10.
Davies (2-2) gave up two runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out four in five innings.
The Royals, who have scored just nine runs in their past five games, stranded a season-high 13 runners and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Designated hitter Jose Guillen left seven runners on base, including striking out to end the seventh with the bases loaded.
“We worked some type of Houdini acts out there,” Acta said. “We pressed our luck a little bit, but the guys ended up getting the outs. You've got to give credit to Fausto. He had good life on his fastball. He kept the ball on the infield on those pop ups with runners on second and third.”
Alberto Callaspo hit two doubles, the only extra-base hits for the Royals. Scott Podsednik and Mike Aviles each had two singles for the Royals.
“The last 18 innings we've scored two runs,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “That's not indicative of what our offense has the ability to do. The high leverage hitsthey're just not there in the same way they were in the first couple of weeks of the season. I'm not sure there's a stronger word than exasperating. If you can come up with a stronger one, that's probably it.
“Carmona was pounding the inside part of the zone hard. We're getting long, trying to do too much, sometimes swinging out of the zone. We're just trying to do too much in adrenaline situations. They need to relax and let the game come to them.”
There was a rain delay of 26 minutes after the third inning and a 70-minute rain delay after the fifth.
Notes: Royals manager Trey Hillman altered his batting order, moving RF David DeJesus from leadoff to the third slot. Podsednik, who had been hitting second, hit first. Butler, who had hit in the third slot for 27 games, hit cleanup. ... Kendall was hit by a pitch for the 250th time, the most by an active player, in his 2,000th career game. ... The Royals promoted rookie RHP Blake Wood, who was 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA and five saves with Triple-A Omaha. ... RHP Josh Rupe, who failed to retire any of the four Indians batters he faced Tuesday, was designated for assignment. Rupe was 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 11 relief appearances.