CLEVELAND (AP) – Brad Hand bounced back from his recent struggles to record his 30th save, Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Friday night.
The All-Star closer, who had blown three consecutive saves, gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert bounced into a double play, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 39, and Bubba Starling grounded out to end the game.
Hand had allowed seven earned runs and 13 hits over five innings in his previous five appearances.
Lindor also gave his team a much-needed boost. The Indians had lost seven of nine, including a 2-5 trip to New York that ended with a three-game sweep to the Mets.
The All-Star shortstop hit his 22nd homer, a blast to right field off Jakob Junis (8-12) to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead. Tyler Naquin also had a two-run single in the inning.
Rookie Zach Plesac (7-4) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander is 3-0 in three starts against Kansas City this season.
Cleveland split four games with the Yankees and was swept by the Mets. The 2-0 loss Thursday night was called in the eighth inning after two rain delays totaling almost three hours. The Indians’ flight to Cleveland arrived around 4 a.m. Friday.
Plesac took a three-hit shutout into the sixth when Nicky Lopez led off with a single. Plesac retired the next two hitters before Hunter Dozier hit a line drive to center. Oscar Mercado attempted to make a diving catch, but the ball sailed past him and rolled to the wall, giving Dozier an RBI triple.
Junis allowed four runs in four innings and is 1-4 in six starts against Cleveland this season. Lindor is batting .500 (16 for 32) with four homers and 12 RBIs lifetime against the right-hander.
The Royals were in Boston on Thursday to complete a suspended game from Aug. 7. The Red Sox scored in the 10th for a 5-4 win and the completion of the game took 12 minutes.
Yasiel Puig, who had the nickname “Wild Horse” on his uniform as part of the Players’ Weekend, broke an 0-for-15 slump with a first-inning single. He also made a long run to catch Starling’s fly ball in shallow right field in the second.