CLEVELAND (AP) — Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 in seven innings and Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana each hit solo homers, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night in a matchup between two teams in the thick of the AL wild-card chase.
The Indians, who won despite having only five hits, stayed even with Baltimore, 1½ games back of Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot. The Royals dropped to four games behind the Rays.
Jimenez (11-9) allowed one unearned run and didn’t walk a batter. The right-hander left with a 4-1 lead after throwing 99 pitches, but Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer off Cody Allen in the eighth.
Chris Perez survived a shaky ninth for his 23rd save, retiring Gordon on a fly ball with the bases loaded to end the game. The Indians have won six of eight.
Salvador Perez led off with a single and Mike Moustakas walked on four pitches. Pinch-hitter David Lough’s sacrifice moved the runners to second and third. Carlos Pena, batting for Jarrod Dyson, struck out looking on a full-count pitch. Pinch-hitter George Kottaras, battling back from an 0-2 count, walked to load the bases.
Gordon flied out to center fielder Michael Bourn to finally end Chris Perez’s 27-pitch inning.
Royals starter Ervin Santana (8-9) made three mistakes, but they cost him the game. Cabrera homered in the second and Gomes hit his in the fifth. Santana led off the seventh with a line drive down the right field line that landed in the seats. First base umpire Dana DeMuth ruled the ball foul, bringing Indians manager Terry Francona out of the dugout.
The umpires huddled briefly and left the field to view a replay, which clearly showed the ball hit the foul pole. The umps returned to the field, DeMuth gave the home run signal and Santana rounded the bases.
A crowd of only 9,794 attended the game, despite the matchup of two contenders. Several hundred dogs were also in attendance with a “Puppypalooza” promotion.
The Indians also got a boost from rookie infielder Jose Ramirez, who got his first major league hit and used his speed to score a run in his first start since being called up from Double-A Akron on Sept. 1.
Francona said before the game he started Ramirez because he thought the rookie could do something to help the team score. Ramirez made his manager look good in the third when he started the inning with a single.
As Drew Stubbs grounded out to third baseman Mike Moustakas, Ramirez, running on the 3-2 pitch, headed to third base. First baseman Eric Hosmer’s return throw to third was in the dirt. The ball bounced off Moustakas and rolled into shallow left field as Ramirez slid into the base. Shortstop Alcides Escobar tracked down the ball but briefly bobbled it and Ramirez headed home, scoring without a throw.
Ramirez’s throwing error on Gordon’s infield hit led to Kansas City’s run in the sixth. His wild throw to first allowed Gordon to take second before Hosmer’s two-out single cut the lead to 3-1.
Other than the error, the Indians supported Jimenez with strong defense. Jarrod Dyson led off the third with a double and took third on a groundout. First baseman Nick Swisher fielded Gordon’s groundball and threw to catcher Yan Gomes, who tagged Dyson for the out.
Gomes also threw out two runners trying to steal second.
NOTES: Gordon’s home run was the 100th of his career. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson (strained left oblique) is confident he’ll return before the season ends. He has begun limited activities, such as stretching, and hopes to start playing catch this weekend. ... Royals manager Ned Yost plans on continuing to alternate OFs Dyson, Lorenzo Cain and David Lough. Cain and Dyson were in the lineup for their series opener in Cleveland, along with Gordon in left. ... Jason Giambi, the Indians’ 42-year-old DH, says he’d like to play next season and would consider returning to Cleveland. “I love it here,” he said. “I like the direction we’re going.” Giambi joked about recording his 2,000th hit Sunday, saying, “It’s a good accomplishment considering I can’t run. It’s more like 4,000.” ... Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie (13-10) faces Indians RHP Zach McAllister (7-8) in the second game of the three-game series Tuesday.