CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber pushed to the front of the Cy Young race with another dominant start and Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer as the Cleveland Indians celebrated a division title and edged the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Sunday.
Kluber (17-4), who has lost once since July 4, allowed three singles in seven innings and has not given up a run in 22 straight innings.
Encarnacion homered in the fourth off Danny Duffy (8-9) as the Indians improved to 33-5 since Aug. 11 despite getting only three hits.
The Royals closed to 3-2 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single by Brandon Moss off Tyler Olson. Cody Allen finished the inning and then worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth for his 28th save.
Before the game, Cleveland raised a flag to commemorate its second straight AL Central title. The team officially clinched Saturday night when second-place Minnesota lost to Toronto.
It’s been quite a week for the Indians, who won an AL-record 22 straight games before losing Friday. The second-longest streak in baseball history captured the attention of sports fans across the country and solidified the Indians as one of the favorites in October.
A champagne celebration was on deck following the game.
Kluber could be on his way to a second Cy Young Award win, following 2014’s. The right-hander is 10-1 in his last 10 starts. Despite missing nearly a month, he leads the league in wins (17), ERA (2.35), shutouts (3) and complete games (5).
In the major statistical categories, Kluber trails only Boston’s Chris Sale, his closest competition for the pitching award, in strikeouts.
The Royals threatened off Kluber in the seventh, loading the bases on a pair of soft singles and his throwing error. Alex Gordon’s bat was shattered on a comebacker and Kluber threw out the outfielder, who was still holding the handle as he reached the bag and flung it in disgust.
Duffy (8-9), making his first appearance since Aug. 22, coasted through the first three innings before second baseman Whit Merrifield committed a throwing error to let Austin Jackson reach. One out later, Encarnacion drove a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his 36th homer.
The Indians appeared to take a 1-0 lead on Francisco Lindor’s homer in the first, but a ruling by third-base umpire Ted Barrett was overturned by a replay review that clearly showed Lindor’s shot was foul by several feet.
The All-Star shortstop was seeking an extra-base hit in his 11th straight game. He set the club record on Saturday.
Royals: C Salvador Perez (pulled side muscle) and OF Lorenzo Cain (rest) sat out but are expected to return Tuesday for the series opener in Toronto.
Indians: All-Star 2B Jose Ramirez (hamstring) was rested for the second day in a row as a precaution. … Team president Chris Antonetti said there is still no clarity on whether OF Michael Brantley will return this season. He’s been out since Aug. 9 with an ankle injury. … Rookie OF Bradley Zimmer (broken hand) is keeping up with his conditioning and maintaining his arm strength after surgery. Zimmer had a plate and nine screws inserted into his hand, which he broke on a headfirst dive into first.
Royals: Either RHP Ian Kennedy or Sam Gaviglio will start against the Blue Jays. Kennedy missed his last turn in the rotation with shoulder fatigue. Gaviglio has started twice since being claimed on waivers from Seattle.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger will look for his 11th win on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series in Los Angeles. He was drafted by the Angels in 2011 and traded to Cleveland in 2014.