Masterson, Cabrera lift Indians over Royals, 5-4

KANSAS CITY (AP) — With just under four weeks remaining, the Cleveland Indians continue to hang around in the AL Central.

Justin Masterson worked seven strong innings, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Donald both homered to lift the Indians to a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

Masterson (11-8) allowed seven hits and four runs as the Indians (69-66) equaled last year’s win total and remained 51⁄2 games behind first-place Detroit in the division. The longer Cleveland stays close to the Tigers, the more exciting Masterson figures it’s going to be in September.

“Why not? You’re here, you’re playing. There’s a lot of good things going on right now,” he said. “It’s going to be fun as we continue on, especially with as many games as we have left in the division.”

The Indians jumped to a 5-0 lead, but had to hang on after Masterson departed with Cleveland up by one. Vinnie Pestano came on after Kansas City had scored in three consecutive innings and stopped the Royals cold with a perfect eighth. Closer Chris Perez got Kansas City in order in the ninth for his 31st save.

“Masterson threw the ball well, but those guys have a very good lineup,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of the Royals. You can’t fall asleep or they will put some runs up on you right away. Our bullpen was clutch again.”

Acta was particularly impressed by Pestano, who struck out both Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur while working a clean eighth.

“Just a tremendous inning,” Acta said “When you have a one-run lead and you have to go through Butler, (Eric) Hosmer and Francoeur, that’s a pivotal inning.”

Pestano has allowed just one run over his last 16 outings. The right-hander knew he needed to be sharp to hold off the heart of the order.

“You are dog-paddling in the water, hoping to keep your head up,” Pestano said.

Royals starter Bruce Chen (10-6) gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings. When Masterson and Chen matched up in Cleveland last Sunday, it was Chen who had the upper hand in a 2-1 win.

Not this time.

The Indians went to work in the first, producing two runs on three hits. Carlos Santana’s run-scoring double and an RBI single by Jim Thome put the Royals in a hole that would get much deeper.

Cleveland struck again in the third against Chen, who had gone 5-1 in six August starts. A leadoff single by Kosuke Fukudome and Cabrera’s two-run homer that barely eluded the outstretched glove of a leaping Alex Gordon in left staked Masterson to a 4-0 lead.

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