Luis Mendoza pitched into the seventh inning in his first start since a bout with strep throat and the Kansas City Royals beat the struggling Cleveland Indians 6-3 on Friday night.
Mike Moustakas and Brayan Pena each drove in two runs for the Royals, who have won three straight and four of six. Mendoza wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and allowed two runs and eight hits in six-plus innings.
The Indians have lost 40 of 52 games since July 26 when they were 50-49 and trailed AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox by 3½ games. They have lost six straight against Kansas City and eight of nine overall in the season series.
Mendoza (8-9), who was scratched from a Wednesday start with the strep throat, had a shaky first inning. Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis singled with no outs and moved up on Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice.
Mendoza then struck out Carlos Santana and issued an intentional walk to Michael Brantley before Travis Hafner grounded out to end the inning.
Kansas City pushed across two runs in the second on RBI singles by Pena and Irving Falu. Moustakas tacked on a sacrifice fly in the third and a run-scoring groundout in the fifth.
Mendoza departed after Ezequiel Carrera led off the seventh with a bunt single. Tim Collins hit Choo with a pitch and yielded a two-out, two-run single to Santana.
Mendoza earned his first victory since Aug. 11. He was 0-1 with four no-decisions since his previous win.
Justin Masterson (11-15) lost his third straight start. He was charged with four runs and seven hits in six innings.
Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 opportunities.
Brantley singled home Cabrera in the third inning for Cleveland's first run.
NOTES: Royals C Salvador Perez and LF Alex Gordon were held out of the lineup with bruised hands. Manager Ned Yost said Perez has been battling sore hands for a week and likely would not play in the weekend series against the Indians. Gordon bruised his hand while sliding into home in the sixth inning Thursday. Gordon did come in as a defensive replacement in the eighth. Yost said Gordon probably would start Saturday. .. Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who has lost five straight decisions, will start Saturday. The Royals will counter with rookie LHP Will Smith. ... George Toma, who was the Royals' groundskeeper from their inaugural season until 1995, was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame before the game. Toma becomes the 25th member of the Royals' hall.