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Indians avoid sweep at Kansas City

By PAUL HOYNES • Aug 26, 2018 at 6:23 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Indians, with the top of the top of the lineup still trying to find itself, received some help from below on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.

Slumping Jason Kipnis drove in four runs and rookie Greg Allen added two more RBI as the Indians beat Kansas City, 12-5. The Tribe ended a season-high losing streak at four games and avoided being swept by the AL Central basement-dwelling Royals.

Kipnis led the Tribe's 13-hit attack with four hits, including a two-run inside-the-park homer in the ninth. It was the 100th homer of Kipnis' career.

Rookie Shane Bieber earned his eighth win despite allowing a career-high three home runs, including one by Whit Merrifield to start the first inning. Bieber (8-2, 4.52) allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Indians, trailing 1-0 against rookie right-hander Jorge Lopez, took control with a five-run fourth. Six straight batters reached base against Lopez (1-3, 4.86) as Melky Cabrera and Kipnis drove in runs. Allen, hitting ninth, had a bloop two-run double for the big hit of the inning.

The Tribe ended this seven-game trip through Boston and Kansas City with a 3-4 record.

In Saturday night's 7-1 loss, the top four hitters in the Tribe's lineup went 1-for-15. After the game manager Terry Francona said the Indians "looked tired" and needed to show up Sunday and find a way to win a game.

Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion — the top four hitters in Francona's lineup — were better Sunday. They went 5-for-20 with a homer and four RBI, but some of that damage was done after this game had been decided.

Still, with the way the offense has been going of late -- nine runs in the four-game losing streak -- every run helps. Such as Lindor's two-run single in the sixth for a 7-2 lead. It didn't look big at the time, but when Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer in the sixth to end Bieber's afternoon, it meant Indians pitchers still had room for error.

Encarnacion broke out the parrot in the eighth inning with a two-run homer to make it 10-5. It was Encarnacion's third homer since coming off the disabled list on Wednesday and his 28th for the season.

In the ninth, Kipnis hit a ball off the top of the wall in the right field corner. It bounced high into the air and landed in right center field. It was the second inside-the-park homer by the Indians this season. Encarnacion did it on April 2 against the Angels.

What it means

It's looking more and more like the Indians will be packing their bags for Houston or Oakland to play the ALDS in October.

The AL-West leading Astros moved out to a six-game lead over the Indians for home-field advantage in the best-of-five playoff series with an 8-3 win over the Angels on Saturday night. Houston also maintained its 1 1/2 game lead over second-place Oakland, who beat the Twins on Saturday night.

Things, of course, could change. The Astros and A's meet in a three-game series at Minute Maid Park starting Monday night. Regardless of who wins the West, the Indians' recent four-game losing streak has put them behind the eight ball when it comes to hosting the ALDS.

Houston is leading the Angels late this afternoon. Oakland defeated Minnesota, 6-2, on Sunday.

The pitches

Lopez threw 79 pitches, 48 (61 percent) for strikes. Bieber threw 84 pitches, 59 (70 percent) for strikes.

The Milk Men Cometh

Four fans, dressed in old-time white milk men uniforms, sat behind the Tribe's dugout on Sunday in honor of Melky "The Melk Man" Cabrera. He played two tours with the Royals and obviously made some fans.

When Cabrera singled in the sixth inning, he waved to The Milk Men.

Thanks for coming

The Indians and Royals drew 18,575 to Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon. First pitch was at 2:17 p.m. with a temperature of 91 degrees and a heat index of 99.

Up next

The Indians are off on Monday before the Twins come to town for a three-game series starting Tuesday night. The Twins and Indians have split 16 games this season, with the Tribe going 4-3 at home.

Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.55) will face the Twins and right-hander Kyle Gibson (7-10, 3.63) at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR-FM 95.3 will carry the game.

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