KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Cleveland Indians rallied against the stingy Kansas City Royals bullpen for a 5-3 victory Tuesday night.
The Indians were shut out until the sixth by Yordano Ventura, who made an electric major league debut. They tied the game 3-all in the seventh off reliever Kelvin Herrera, and Cabrera’s double off Wade Davis (7-11) in the eighth scored Drew Stubbs and gave Cleveland the lead.
Michael Bourn added a homer in the ninth to provide a cushion.
Meanwhile, Cody Allen (6-1) was among six Indians relievers who kept Kansas City off the scoreboard the final 4 1-3 innings. Chris Perez handled a perfect ninth for his 25th save.
The win allowed the Indians to remain a half-game back of Texas and Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race. The Royals are 3½ games adrift after the Rangers beat the Rays earlier in the night.
Ventura has already been saddled with the nickname “Ace” before Monday night, but in the first inning he looked more like a different film character: Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn.
He erratically walked Bourn on four pitches to lead off the game, and earned a roar when he finally threw a strike to Nick Swisher. The roar grew when Ventura got him to ground into a double play, and reached a crescendo when he struck out Jason Kipnis to end the inning.
The 22-year-old flame-thrower settled in after that, mixing his curveball and changeup with straight gas that touched 101 mph on the radar gun at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals gave him a lead on Hosmer’s double in the first inning. They added two more in the third, thanks in large part to Emilio Bonifacio getting into the head of starter Corey Kluber.
After a single, Bonifacio swiped second even as Kluber tried to pick him off. Bonifacio kept dancing around second base, and the Indians right-hander proceeded to walk Hosmer and Billy Butler to load up the bases. Salvador Perez’s sacrifice fly and Mike Moustakas’s double made it 3-0.
The Indians finally started to rally in the sixth. Swisher’s single and a pair of two-out singles by Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley made it 3-1 and drove Ventura from the game — he received a standing ovation. Cabrera walked to load the bases before Ryan Raburn struck out.
It may have been a wasted opportunity, but Cleveland atoned for it the next inning.
Yan Gomes was plunked in the back by Herrera, and then Bourn ripped an RBI triple into the gap. Swisher followed with a sacrifice fly to left field that knotted the game 3-all.
That set the stage for Cabrera to finish off the comeback.
Notes: The Royals made roster space for Ventura by placing 1B Carlos Pena (appendectomy) on the 60-day DL. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson (left oblique) hopes to throw a bullpen session Friday. ... Royals affiliate Omaha beat Rays affiliate Durham 2-1 to win the Triple-A title. ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen and Indians RHP Danny Salazar meet in the series finale Wednesday.