CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Konnor Pilkington struck out eight in five innings for his first major league win and the Cleveland Guardians beat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Pilkington, making his third career start and sixth appearance, worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. The left-hander is taking the rotation spot of injured Aaron Civale.
Pilkington was showered with beer by teammates to commemorate the win. He knew the importance of getting out of the fourth inning.
“I know I needed some kind of action, maybe a strikeout, maybe a double-play ball, something like that,” he said. “Cards fell my way and I just kept executing pitches.”
José Ramírez had a run-scoring groundout in the fifth for his major league-leading 52nd RBI. Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and Richie Palacios also drove in runs for Cleveland.
Kansas City has dropped 11 of 13 and has the worst record in the majors at 16-33.
Brad Keller (1-6) allowed four runs and six hits in six innings.
Four Cleveland pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts. Royals manager Mike Matheny thought Keller gave his team a chance to win but pointed to those strikeouts as a major factor in another difficult day.
“It continues to be tough,” Matheny said. “We’ve had some really hard losses, and every one of them now continues to pile on the frustration in that room."
Pilkington (1-0) struck out his first four hitters. He stranded two in the second and one in the third before dodging major trouble in the fourth.
The inning began when Salvador Perez walked and MJ Melendez singled. Pilkington struck out Hunter Dozier, but Carlos Santana’s sharply hit single to right loaded the bases.
Pitching coach Carl Willis visited Pilkington on the mound to help him regroup. Emmanuel Rivera struck out and Nicky Lopez grounded out to end the inning.
“I don’t want to sound bad or anything, but my stuff plays," said Pilkington, who was acquired from Washington last season for infielder César Hernández. “Trusting my fastball and trusting my changeup and being able to locate those pitches. And then when they start to get on, being able to adjust.”
Pilkington began the season in Cleveland’s bullpen amid expanded rosters. He started in a doubleheader and was sent to Triple-A Columbus and was recalled when Civale was injured on May 20.
The Royals, who have a day off Thursday, completed a stretch of 26 games in 25 days.
Cleveland has had seven games postponed by inclement weather at Progressive Field this season. Heavy rain fell seconds after Emmanuel Clase recorded the final out Wednesday.
Civale (left gluteal soreness) underwent a procedure to aspirate blood from the affected area, which has delayed his return. Cleveland hopes he can pitch off a mound this weekend.
Andrew Benintendi had three hits and has reached base in 23 straight games. ... Cleveland rookie Oscar Gonzalez was 0 for 4 after hitting safely in his first five major league games.
SEE YOU LATER
The Royals don’t return to Cleveland until late September for a stretch of six days. The teams complete the regular season with six games from Sept. 30-Oct. 5.
Royals: C Cam Gallagher (left hamstring strain) caught five innings in his first game on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday and was hitless in two at-bats. He has missed 28 games.
Guardians: RHP James Karinchak (strained shoulder) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday night. He was injured during spring training.
Royals: RHP Brady Singer (2-0, 2.49 ERA), coming off a win over Minnesota in his last start, will open a three-game home series against Houston on Friday night.
Guardians: RHP Shane Bieber (12-3, 3.19 ERA) will pitch the opener of a three-game series in Baltimore on Friday night. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner allowed one run in eight innings against Detroit in his last start.