Alex Gordon set the tone by homering to lead off the game and James Shields pitched into the ninth inning, as the Kansas City Royals posted a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in the rubber match of a three-game set between playoff hopefuls.
Emilio Bonifacio had three hits and scored two runs for the Royals, who are now a half-game behind the Indians and 2 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.
Shields (11-9) allowed two first-inning hits, the second a two-out, two-run single by Michael Brantley. He then silenced Cleveland's bats until Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana opened the ninth with consecutive hits.
Greg Holland, however, shut down the rally by striking out the next three batters to pick up his 42nd save.
Shields surrendered just the four hits, walked one and struck out seven.
"I made some good pitches in the first and they got two runs, but the team did a good job of getting me out to an early lead and tacking on some runs later in the game," Shields said.
Scott Kazmir (8-8) started for the Indians and gave up four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits in four-plus innings.
Gordon drove Kazmir's first pitch to right-center field, sparking a three-run opening frame. Bonifacio followed with a triple past a sliding Drew Stubbs in right and scored on an Eric Hosmer single. Back-to-back singles by Justin Maxwell and Lorenzo Cain plated Hosmer with two outs.
"First-pitch fastball, low and away, felt like it was a good pitch and (Gordon) put a good swing on it. That type of stuff happens," Kazmir said.
Kazmir, like Shields, his former Rays rotation mate, settled down over the next couple innings before Bonifacio and Hosmer both singled to begin the fifth. Bonifacio advanced to second on Kazmir's errant pickoff attempt and took third on the hit by Hosmer.
Bryan Shaw relieved Kazmir and inherited the first-and-third situation. Bonifacio wound up scoring when Billy Butler grounded into a double play.
The Royals continued to tack on against the Cleveland bullpen. Gordon scored from third on another botched pickoff throw to first by Rich Hill in the seventh, and birthday boy Mike Moustakas added an RBI single off Matt Albers an inning later.