KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jason Vargas tossed his first shutout in nearly three years Friday night, outdueling Royals nemesis Josh Tomlin and sending Kansas City to a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Vargas (7-3) allowed seven hits over the first six innings but deftly induced double plays in four of them to escape the trouble. The veteran left-hander then set down the Indians in order the rest of the way, making a nifty grab of Carlos Santana’s liner in the ninth to seal it.
It was Vargas’ first shutout since a 3-0 victory over Oakland on Aug. 13, 2014.
The Royals scored their first run off Tomlin (3-7) with two down in the sixth when Lorenzo Cain beat out an infield single — he was initially ruled out, but the call was quickly overturned.
Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 17 games with an RBI double in the seventh, and Mike Moustakas belted his 14th homer and Eric Hosmer delivered an RBI double in the eighth.
That gave Vargas enough cushion that closer Kelvin Herrera stopped warming up in the bullpen.
It was still another solid performance by Tomlin against the Royals. He tossed a six-hit complete game when the teams met last month, and he was 10-4 against Kansas City in his career.
Tomlin only allowed two singles in the second before Escobar’s base hit in the sixth got things going. Escobar went to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout before Cain came to bat.
The Royals’ outfielder chopped a pitch into the dirt in front of the plate and took off for first base. Tomlin rushed off the mound and fielded it cleanly, and snapped a throw to Santana at first base, where umpire Ed Hickox signaled that Cain was out by a step.
The Royals challenged the call as the Indians started toward the dugout, and it only took 1 minute, 15 seconds for the ruling to be overturned and Kansas City to take a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Vargas only allowed one baserunner past second, and he was stranded by an inning-ending double play in the first. Vargas also got double plays in the second, fourth and sixth, and would have had another in the third if Daniel Robertson hadn’t been hustling to first base.
Vargas also beat the Indians last weekend, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 5-2 victory.
Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (concussion) had a good workout Friday and could play a rehab game at Double-A Akron this weekend, manager Terry Francona said. “He has to get OK’d from the doctor,” Francona said. “If it happened tonight he’d play in Akron tomorrow and we’d go from there.”
Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco tries to continue his road dominance on Saturday afternoon. Carrasco is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA in five starts away from Progressive Field.
Royals RHP Jason Hammel’s only win this season came against Cleveland on May 5, when he allowed one run in six innings. He is 1-6 with a 6.18 ERA this season.