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Associated Press
Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar watches his home run leave in the fifth inning in Cleveland.

Royals close wild-card gap

– September is almost halfway over. The Kansas City Royals are nowhere near finished.

They won’t go away.

Jeremy Guthrie got a major assist from his defense in pitching six innings, Alcides Escobar hit a rare home run and the Royals snapped a six-game losing streak in Cleveland, 6-3 on Tuesday night to close on the Indians and two others in the AL’s cramped wild-card scramble.

Guthrie (14-10) gave up just one run and nine hits, but was helped by three double plays as the Royals, coupled with Tampa Bay’s loss to Boston, pulled within three games of a wild-card spot.

“We’re excited,” Guthrie said. “We know there’s teams ahead of us. If we win games, we have a chance. If we don’t, we don’t. The scoreboard watching makes it fun. We know we have to win a lot of games. We have to win series to give ourselves a chance.”

Mike Moustakas hit a two-run double in the sixth off Zach McAllister (7-9) and the hanging-tough Royals won for the 12th time in 17 games.

Kansas City had lost seven in a row before this stretch and was on the verge of falling from the race. But the Royals are still in the thick of the wide-open playoff chase, and could still have a say in the AL Central with three games later this week at first-place Detroit.

“I don’t even remember the seven straight,” Moustakas said of the Royals’ slide last month.

“That’s the key – just forget it. We go out there every night with the same mindset, to win a ballgame at all costs. We stick with that. ”

Royals reliever Luke Hochevar struck out all five batters he faced, and closer Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his 41st save.

Michael Bourn had two RBI for Cleveland. The Indians had several chances early on against Guthrie, but squandered their opportunities.

“We rolled into a couple double plays,” manager Terry Francona said. “We didn’t do damage. We gave ourselves a chance in a lot of innings, but couldn’t get the big hit to get the ball rolling.”

Of the six current teams in the wild-card chase, the Indians have the most favorable schedule. Kansas City is the only team with a winning record that Cleveland will face the rest of the way.

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