James Shields struck out 10 over six innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Cleveland Indians, 7-1, in the opener of a three-game series.
Shields (12-9) allowed one run on six hits for the Royals, who moved within 2 1/2 games of the Rangers for the final wild card spot in the AL. The right- hander improved to 6-1 over his last eight outings, giving up three runs or fewer in all but one of those.
Shields, Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar and Tim Collins combined for 17 strikeouts, a franchise record for a nine-inning game.
"Every game is important," Shields said. "This is what we live for, this is what we play for, September baseball, and hopefully we have a chance to go to the playoffs."
Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, David Lough, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Billy Butler each drove in a run for Kansas City, which had 14 hits.
Lonnie Chisenhall hit a homer for the Indians, who were coming off a four-game sweep of the White Sox.
Scott Kazmir (8-9) gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out six over five-plus innings for Cleveland, which is a half-game behind Texas for the second wild card spot.
"They're a very scrappy team. They go out there and try to get the extra base. They just push hard all game," said Kazmir.
After the Indians left men on second and third in the top of the first, Kansas City got on the board in the bottom half. Emilio Bonifacio singled to shallow center field, stole second and raced home on Butler's single up the middle.
The Royals tacked on another run in the third. Alex Gordon struck out swinging, but advanced to first on a wild pitch. Eric Hosmer singled two batters later to put men on the corners. Perez's two-out single to right- center field scored Gordon.
In the fifth, Chisenhall homered to right to cut the gap to 2-1.
But the home team scored three runs in the sixth to create some distance. Perez tripled to left-center field and crossed the plate on Cain's triple to center. Matt Albers came in from the bullpen and pinch-hitter Lough greeted him with an RBI single to right. Escobar reached first on Asdrubal Cabrera's throwing error before Nick Hagadone took over on the hill. The runners moved up one base when Gordon flied out. Another run scored when Bonifacio reached first on Chisenhall's fielding error.
Kansas City tacked on two more runs in the seventh. Carlos Carrasco put men on first and third with two outs before giving way to Rich Hill. Moustakas and Escobar hit consecutive RBI singles to make it a 7-1 game.
Despite Monday's defeat, the Indians are 9-8 against the Royals this season ... Shields improved to 3-5 lifetime versus Cleveland ... The Indians are six games behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central.