Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor runs past Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and relief pitcher Dillon Gee to score on a single by Carlos Santana during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 19, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/C
Charlie Riedel
July 19, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Danny Salazar has no idea why he seems to handle the Kansas City Royals so easily.

Perhaps it's because he's such an aggressive pitcher and they have such an aggressive lineup.

The Indians' right-hander went right after the Royals in his third outing against them this season, shutting them down into the seventh inning in leading Cleveland to a 7-3 victory.

''They like to swing a lot,'' said Salazar (11-3), who tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings against Kansas City in a 7-1 victory in early May, and allowed one run over eight innings in a 6-1 win last month.

''You really have to mix your pitches.''

He did that nicely, striking out seven and walking one over 6 2-3 innings.

''He did a really good job of keeping them off the scoreboard, for the most part,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''We really needed that bounce-back win.''

Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the first off Brian Flynn (1-1), and Carlos Santana drove in two runs off long reliever Dillon Gee, as the Indians snapped a five-game skid at Kauffman Stadium.

Francisco Lindor added a solo shot in the ninth for Cleveland.

''You're facing an All-Star pitcher in Salazar,'' said Royals manager Ned Yost, who skippered the winning club last week. ''He's not an All-Star for nothing. He's tough.''

The Flynn-Gee combo got the call for the Royals in place of ineffective fifth starter Chris Young. Flynn lasted 2 2/3 innings in his first start since August 2014, while Gee went the next 5 1/3 innings.

Then again, Cy Young would have had a tough time matching Salazar on another hot, humid night.

He didn't allow a runner past first base through the first five innings, striking out Alex Gordon twice along the way. He seemed to falter in the oppressive weather in the sixth, when Salvador Perez drove in a run and Kendrys Morales scored on a wild pitch, but managed to escape the inning.

He gave up a sacrifice fly in the seventh before Kyle Crockett finished the inning.

Salazar pitched with the lead the entire way after Napoli's homer in the first inning, his 21st of the year just skirting inside the left-field foul pole. But the rest of the Indians' offense came from the same kind of small ball that carried the AL Central-rival Royals to the World Series title last season.

They scored a run in the second on a single, a walk and two sacrifices. The division-leaders added three more in the fifth on a double, three singles, a walk and a fielder's choice.

It was a nice way to rebound after Cleveland blew a late lead in a 7-3 loss the previous night,

''I was really pleased the way we handled it,'' Francona said.

STATS AND STREAKS

Indians OF Erik Gonzalez had a single in the third for his first career hit. ... Salazar has won seven straight, a career best. ... Lindor has hit 24 career homers. Nineteen have been solo shots. ... Gee matched the longest relief outing of his career.

HOT SEATS

Yost and Francona both said they may change up their lineups for the series finale on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees for the afternoon start with a heat index well into triple digits. ''We're going to see tonight who needs a break,'' Yost said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: OF Michael Brantley will have an MRI on Wednesday after experiencing pain in his right shoulder. He had surgery last November and played in only 11 games this season before landing back on the DL. Brantley has been on a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron since July 11.

Royals: RHP Kyle Zimmer, one of the club's top prospects, has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and will miss the rest of the season. The former first-round draft pick will have surgery in the coming weeks. The Mets' Matt Harvey had surgery for the same condition Monday.

UP NEXT

The Royals' Ian Kennedy is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in daytime starts this season. He goes against fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA in seven road starts.

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