Royals try to move closer to playoff spot in opener with Tribe

The Kansas City Royals will continue their pursuit of a postseason spot when they begin a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians Monday night at Progressive Field.

The Royals haven't played in the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series and are 3 1/2 games off the second wild card spot in the American League.

Kansas City has won 11 of its last 15 games and took a three-game series from the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers over the weekend. The Royals won the set with Sunday's 5-2 victory behind starting pitcher Bruce Chen, who limited Detroit's intimidating lineup to a pair of runs and five hits in seven innings.

Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland each threw a scoreless inning of relief, with Holland picking up his 40th save.

"You want to be at your best this time of year, and our guys are sure doing that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I like everything about our club right now. I like our bullpen, I like our starting pitching, our defense has been spectacular, we're running the bases extremely well -- we're very aggressive on the bases, too."

Eric Hosmer went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, while Alex Gordon and Billy Butler each contributed a pair of hits and knocked in a run.

Ervin Santana looks to keep K.C.'s momentum going when he toes the rubber Monday, but is 0-2 in his last six appearances. Santana lasted just 3 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 6-4 loss to Seattle and gave up four runs to fall to 8-8 in 28 starts with a 3.33 ERA this season.

Santana is 1-0 in two starts against the Indians this season and 3-8 with a 4.10 ERA in 16 career starts in this series.

Cleveland is also in the mix for a playoff spot and is tied with Baltimore at two games off the pace in the AL. The club had a four-game winning streak stopped with Sunday's 2-1 loss to the New York Mets in the finale of a three- game series.

Eric Young's RBI double in the top of the ninth was the difference and Indians closer Chris Perez was saddled with the loss. Danny Salazar got the start for the Tribe and lasted four innings, giving up just a run and striking out eight batters.

"We took two out of three. We're still playing well here at home," Indians reliever Joe Smith said.

Asdrubal Cabrera was credited with the lone RBI for Cleveland after he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Jason Giambi joined the 2,000-hit list by finishing 1-for-3.

"It's been a long journey," Giambi said. "With all the ups and downs and things I've gone through, it feels like 4,000. I'll definitely take it and I'll treasure it, for sure."

Cleveland is 4-2 on a nine-game homestand.

Ubaldo Jimenez draws the start for the Indians Monday and ended a personal two-start losing streak in Tuesday's 4-3 win over Baltimore. He hurled six shutout innings and pushed his record to 10-9 in 27 starts to go along with a 3.79 ERA.

Jimenez has faced the Royals four times this season, going 1-0 with a 3.74 ERA, and is 3-2 with a 4.09 ERA in eight career starts against them.

The Indians have won eight of 13 meetings with the Royals this season.