Mike Moustakas clubbed a tiebreaking two-run double as part of a three-run sixth inning, as the Kansas City Royals edged the Cleveland Indians, 6-3, Tuesday in the middle test of a three-game series at Progressive Field.
Alcides Escobar stroked a solo homer and finished with two RBI, while Billy Butler and Salvador Perez each registered two hits and an RBI for the Royals, who have won seven of their last 10 games to move within three games of Tampa Bay for the final AL Wild Card spot after the Rays lost to Boston on Tuesday.
Jeremy Guthrie (14-10) gave the Royals six solid innings of one-run ball, scattering nine hits while striking out two without walking a batter to notch the victory.
"I thought Guthrie did an outstanding job," Royals manager Ned Yost said of his starter. "The reason I say outstanding is because he pitched and kept us in the game through six innings without his best stuff."
Greg Holland hurled a perfect ninth to secure his 41st save of the season.
Michael Bourn smacked a two-run double and Michael Brantley collected two hits and an RBI for the Indians, who have dropped two of their last three games and sit 1 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race.
Zach McAllister (7-9) was touched for four runs on six hits and three walks over five-plus frames to absorb the loss.
McAllister held the Royals to just one hit over the first four frames, but with one out in the fifth, Escobar snapped a 467-at-bat homerless drought with a drive down the left-field line to tie the game at 1-1.
The Royals got to McAllister again the sixth as Eric Hosmer worked a leadoff walk and Butler doubled before both runners scored on Moustakas' double to right to give Kansas City a 3-1 lead.
Perez followed with a single to center to plate Moustakas before Nick Hagadone replaced McAllister on the mound and retired the next three Royals in order to end the inning.
Kansas City extended its lead in the seventh on Butler's sacrifice fly to right, but the Indians answered with two runs in the home half against Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera.
Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall legged out infield singles around a Jason Kubel strikeout before Bourn belted a double into the gap in left-center field to score two runs and bring the Indians within 5-3.
The Royals responded with a run in the eighth to increase their edge, as David Lough laced a one-out triple and scored on Escobar's single for a 6-3 lead.
Luke Hochevar, who fanned the final two Indians in the seventh, struck out the side in the eighth before Holland closed the door in the ninth.
Early on, Cleveland struck first in its first turn at-bat when Brantley capped a string of three straight two-out singles with an RBI base hit to center.
"He's competitive, he throws a lot of strikes," Chisenhall said of Guthrie. "He's just consistent and you know what to expect out of him."
Escobar's last HR came on Apr. 28, also against Cleveland ... Guthrie improved to 4-3 in 10 career meetings (eight starts) against Cleveland ... The Indians finished 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.