KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals reliever James McArthur earned his first big league win and first career save in a span of three days this week.
He didn't get his first anything Tuesday night even though it may have been his best performance yet.
Inheriting a two-on, no-out mess in the eighth inning of a one-run game against Cleveland, the big right-hander proceeded to strike out the next three batters he faced, allowing Kansas City to eventually close out a 7-6 win over the Guardians.
"I can't say enough about him," said Royals manager Matt Quatraro, who watched McArthur allow seven runs in a single inning in his big league debut against the same bunch of Guardians in late June. "I mean, the way he's developed here lately, the big outs he's been getting, he's been tremendous."
MJ Melendez homered and drove in three runs to pace the Kansas City offense, while Makail Garcia had three hits and Nick Loftin added two RBIs. The Royals finished with 13 hits while winning for the fifth time in their last six games.
They also ended a five-series losing streak to the Guardians and will go for the sweep of their AL Central rivals Wednesday.
Alec Marsh (2-8) earned the win despite a shaky showing after opener Steven Cruz, but it was McArthur who stole the show. His three punch-outs left two in scoring position in the eighth, setting up Collin Snider to handle the ninth for his first career save.
"Just trying to keep my best stuff down in the zone," said McArthur, who has retired 22 straight batters and 31 of the past 32, the only blemish a double by the White Sox's Andrew Vaughn. "Pretty special moment."
Logan Allen (7-8) allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks for Cleveland in just three innings.
"We had chances early on, when they were kind of battling command. We couldn't make them pay for it," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "That's happened to us more than we'd want."
Melendez gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the first with his 15th homer of the season, and they added two more runs in the third when the small-ball aficionados strung together a double, four singles and a walk.
Cleveland finally scored in the fifth when Josh Naylor followed an error by right fielder Nelson Velázquez with a two-run single, but Kansas City answered back in the bottom half. Velázquez and Loftin drove in runs before Tyler Cropley, making his big league debut, added a sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 7-2 lead.
The Guardians began a comeback in the sixth with Stevan Kwan's two-out, two-run triple. It continued with a run-scoring triple by Andrés Giménez in the seventh and Bo Naylor's leadoff homer in the eighth, pulling Cleveland within a run.
That's when McArthur inherited a two-on, no-out mess and struck out the next three batters to end the inning.
"It was awesome watching that," Snider said. "That's a big stage and a big moment in the game for us."
SINGER SHUT DOWN
The Royals ended RHP Brady Singer's season after he complained of back pain following a shaky outing in the series opener against Cleveland. Singer was just 8-11 with a career-worst 5.52 ERA and did not win after beating Boston on Aug. 8.
BIEBER ON THE BUMP
Guardians RHP Shane Bieber, who has been out with elbow inflammation, had no problems during his bullpen session Tuesday and will start Friday night's game against Baltimore. He has not started a game since July 9.
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (thoracic outlet syndrome) returned to the injured list after symptoms returned. He is expected to see a shoulder specialist Wednesday. ... RHP Jonathan Bowlan was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and LHP Anthony Veneziano was selected from the same club. ... INF Matt Beaty was designated for assignment.
Guardians: RHP Michael Kelly (back strain) was activated from the injured list. He took the roster spot of LHP Matt Moore, who was claimed by the Marlins after appearing in five games for Cleveland.
Guardians LHP Lucas Giolito (8-13, 4.59 ERA) tries to snap a four-game losing streak in the series finale Wednesday. Royals RHP Zack Greinke (1-15, 5.39) will try once more to add a second win to the one he earned on May 3 against Baltimore.
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