Sean O'Sullivan earned his first win as a starter for the Kansas City Royals and Joakim Soria converted his 33rd straight save in a 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.
O'Sullivan (3-6) gave up two runs and six hits over six-plus innings to beat Mitch Talbot (9-13). The right-hander left with a 3-0 lead and two on in the seventh. Philip Humber allowed both Indians to score, but stranded runners at second and third to end the inning.
Robinson Tejeda pitched the eighth and Soria worked a perfect ninth for his 41st save in 43 chances this season. The All-Star reliever has tossed 21 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings and saved 65 percent of Kansas City's 63 wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's second all-time to Bryan Harvey, who saved 70.3 percent (45 of 64) of the wins for the 1993 Florida Marlins.
Mike Aviles and Kila Ka'aihue each hit a solo homer for the Royals, who moved 1½ games ahead of last-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians have lost five in a row to drop behind Kansas City, which is 7-13 in September.
Aviles hit a one-out homer and Yuniesky Betancourt added an RBI grounder in the first.
Betancourt singled, went to third on a double by Alex Gordon and scored on a groundout by Lucas May in the third to make it 3-0.
Ka'aihue homered in the eighth, extending the lead to 4-2.
Trevor Crowe, a late replacement for Michael Brantley, had three hits for Cleveland. Brantley was in the original lineup, but was scratched with a tight left hamstring.
O'Sullivan bounced back from a 6-4 home loss to the Indians on Saturday in which he gave up a grand slam to Matt LaPorta and five runs over four innings. He had yielded at least five runs in each of his previous four starts for an 11.34 ERA.
The right-hander was 0-6 with a 7.84 ERA in 10 starts since being acquired July 22 from the Angels. He was 1-0 in five appearances with Los Angeles. O'Sullivan's other win for the Royals was a one-inning relief outing against the Chicago White Sox, when the Royals won in 10 innings on Aug. 22.
O'Sullivan walked Shelley Duncan and gave up a double to Jayson Nix in the seventh. Humber then walked LaPorta to load the bases. Luis Valbuena bounced into a forceout at second, scoring Duncan. Nix scored from third when first baseman Billy Butler mishandled a pickoff attempt and was charged with an error.
Talbot gave up three runs and five hits over five innings in his first appearance since Sept. 12, when he threw only 14 pitches against Minnesota, leaving with inflammation in his right shoulder.
The rookie is 1-6 in 12 starts since beating Cincinnati on June 27.
NOTES: Kansas City leads the season series 8-7 with three games left. ... The Royals are 8-24 on the road since July 9. ... Cleveland is 10-21 at home since July 24. ... Cleveland purchased the contracts of RHP Vinnie Pestano and C Luke Carlin from Triple-A Columbus. Carlin, who played for San Diego in 2008 and Arizona in 2009, made his AL debut as a defensive replacement in the eighth. Pestano made his major league debut in the ninth. ... Butler went 1 for 3 with two walks. He has at least one hit in a club-record 101 consecutive series, the second-longest active streak to Baltimore OF Nick Markakis, who has hit in 136 straight.
(This version corrects final score)