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Royals roll on, blast Indians 7-1
spt ap Royals Ventura
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura delivers a pitch in the first inning. - photo by AP Photo

CLEVELAND —  Rookie Yordano Ventura blanked Cleveland’s punchless offense for seven innings as the Kansas City Royals kept pressure on first-place Detroit in the AL Central with a 7-1 win over the Indians on Tuesday night.
The hard-throwing Ventura (14-10) allowed four singles and threw a 100 mph fastball on his 104th pitch.
Salvador Perez’s two-out, two-run double off Danny Salazar (6-8) put the Royals ahead 5-0 in the fifth and they turned their attention to the left-field scoreboard to monitor the Tigers’ score. Kansas City entered one game out of first and with a grasp on one of the league’s two wild-card spots.
The Royals are closing in on their first postseason appearance since 1985, when they won their only World Series title.
At 86-71, Kansas City matched its win total from last season. It’s the first time the Royals have had consecutive seasons with at least 86 victories since 1977-78.
The Indians’ faint playoff hopes grew dimmer. Cleveland trails Kansas City by 4 1/2 games in the wild-card chase with four games remaining. The Royals have five games left.
Cleveland’s offense went into a funk at the worst time possible. The Indians scored an unearned run in the eighth, ending a string of 19 straight scoreless innings.
Ventura made his major league debut against the Indians last September, a performance Indians manager Terry Francona called “electric.”
“We’re not hoping for electric tonight,” Francona said.
Ventura didn’t have to be. The Indians are currently powerless.
With a chance to stay in the race in the season’s final week, Cleveland is collapsing.
Omar Infante’s two-run double in the fourth gave the Royals a 2-0 lead, and with the Indians’ offense sputtering, Ventura had more than enough cushion to notch his fifth win in six starts. He’s 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA in his last eight starts in the division.
In the fifth, Salazar, who struck out the side in the first two innings, got two quick outs before Eric Hosmer doubled and scored on Billy Butler’s double. Alex Gordon was walked intentionally and Perez drove in two with his shot to left-center, the ball just clearing lunging left fielder Michael Brantley’s glove.
Salazar was dominant in the early going, getting six strikeouts in the first two innings with each whiff coming on a wicked change-up that badly fooled the Royals hitters.
He escaped a threat in the third, but Salazar wasn’t so fortunate in the fourth, when he walked Butler and gave up a single to Gordon before Infante pulled his double into the left-field corner.

Indians: OF David Murphy has been limited to spot duty against right-handers as he deals with a nagging abdominal injury that landed him on the disabled list in August. Francona said Murphy isn’t 100 percent and that he’s trying to “be respectful of him” by not playing him too much.

LHP Jason Vargas (11-10), who has recorded the AL’s third-lowest ERA (2.42) on the road, starts the series finale for the Royals, who oddly lost as the home team on Monday when they dropped a suspended game. Trevor Bauer (5-8) goes for the Indians, who have lost each of his past four starts after winning four in a row and five of six.