CLEVELAND (AP) — Danny Duffy pushed the Royals a little closer to the top in the AL Central and nearer their first playoff appearance in 29 years.
Duffy pitched six shutout innings for his first win in more than a month as Kansas City moved within one game of first-place Detroit and kept some distance over Cleveland in the wild-card race, beating the Indians 2-0 on Monday night.
Duffy (9-11), who had thrown just one pitch in September before the start, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first and held the Indians to six hits. The left-hander had been sidelined since Sept. 6 with a sore shoulder.
“I wasn’t feeling any pressure,” Duffy said. “I tried to simplify things and not think about the race we’re in.”
Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 44th save as the Royals, seeking their first postseason appearance since 1985, earned an unusual split and moved within one game of the Tigers, who lost 2-0 at home to the White Sox.
Earlier, the Royals lost 4-3 in 10 innings in a game suspended Aug. 31 in Kansas City.
“It was a good day for us,” manager Ned Yost said. “We wanted to get that suspended game behind us. We knew that was looming over our heads. It’s like we’ve been saying, nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
Carlos Carrasco (8-6) couldn’t keep the momentum going for the Indians, who remain 3 1/2 games out in the wild card and are quickly running out of time.
“It’s not very often you don’t score and come away with a split,” manager Terry Francona said. “There’s not a lot of season left. Every time you lose a game, you’re disappointed, and now we’ll show up tomorrow, and it’s kind of simple. Just show up and try to win.”
Duffy survived a shaky first inning in which he threw 24 pitches. He gave up three hits in the first two innings but just three more over the next four. His previous start against Cleveland was the game that wound up being suspended.
Duffy’s performance — he was removed after throwing one pitch at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 6 — took a little pressure off the Royals, who entered the day holding one of the two wild-card spots. Kansas City picked up one-half game on Seattle and stayed comfortably ahead of Cleveland.
“The teams we needed to lose, lost tonight,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit an RBI single in the first. “We gained some ground, especially playing these guys. They’re a tough team. If we get a chance to put these guys away, we need to make the most of it.”
Kansas City took a 2-0 lead in the fifth on Alcides Escobar’s RBI single that easily could have been ruled an error on Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez.
Cleveland’s first three hitters reached in the first, but the Indians came up empty as Duffy retired cleanup hitter Carlos Santana on a popup, struck out Yan Gomes looking and got Mike Aviles on a lazy fly to right.
Carrasco gave the Indians another solid outing, allowing two runs and seven hits with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander tossed a two-hitter last week in Houston for his first complete-game shutout.
After waiting 23 days, the Indians needed nine minutes to finish off the Royals in the first game and temporarily pulled within 2 1/2 games in a wild, wild-card race entering its last days.
Scott Atchison gave up a two-out RBI single to Nori Aoki in the bottom of the 10th — Kansas City was the home team on the road — before getting Omar Infante to pop out for his second save with the tying run at second.
SOFT SCHEDULE: After finishing their series in Cleveland, the Royals will conclude the regular season with four games in Chicago. Kansas City is 10-5 against the White Sox and 5-1 at U.S. Cellular Field.
BLANKED: The shutout was Kansas City’s first in Cleveland since July 29, 2011.
STRIKEOUT KING: Wade Davis recorded his 104th strikeout, setting a single-season club record for a Royals reliever. The previous mark was shared by Jim York (1971) and Greg Holland (2013).