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KC@CLE: Escobar wins 14-pitch battle against Sipp

CLEVELAND -- Need a last-minute starter? No problem. Just call Danny Duffy.

"I'm pretty much microwavable, you give me 30 minutes I'll be ready," Duffy said.

Actually, Duffy had a lot more warning than that as he subbed for Kyle Davies on Sunday. The rookie lefty earned the victory as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, while 21,101 patrons soaked in the rays at Progressive Field.

For a team that often finds itself incapable of finding victories on the road, this journey ranks as a rousing success for the tourists from Kansas City. They finished with a 4-3 record by winning the Cleveland series, two games to one, after splitting four games at Boston.

"Two wins against Boston in Boston is really good," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Coming in here and battling this team and winning two out of three -- and having a chance to win all three -- I thought we played great baseball the whole road trip."

Not only did Yost get five staunch innings from Duffy, the bullpen chipped in with four strong innings. Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon each hit his 14th home run of the season, both solo shots off big right-hander Fausto Carmona.

But the Royals' biggest at-bat was by Alcides Escobar, a marathon 14-pitch showdown against left-hander Tony Sipp in the ninth inning. At the time, the Royals were clinging to a 4-3 lead but, with two out, Chris Getz singled and stole second base.

Sipp kept firing and Escobar kept fouling off pitches, eight in all.

"I'm just trying to put the ball in play," Escobar said. "When it got to 3-2, every pitch was a fastball. No breaking pitches. All fastballs middle outside. The last one was high. It was ball four if I don't swing at it."

But swing at it he did, lining a single into center field to send Getz to the plate and giving closer Joakim Soria a two-run lead to work with.

"Wow, that's the best at-bat in my career," Escobar said.

Soria, who'd been blasted by a game-ending homer in the Indians' four-run ninth inning on Saturday night, came in and racked up his 20th save.

"I wanted the ball big-time today. I was hoping to have the situation to get in the game," Soria said. "It worked today."

Soria got a strikeout before issuing a walk, then induced Carlos Santana to tap into a double play.

"You lose one day and the good part of baseball is you always have the next day to redeem yourself," Soria said.

There was really no need for Duffy to stick his left arm in a microwave oven. Yost knew Davies' shoulder was barking and he might need to bypass his scheduled start. So, he gave Duffy a head's up before Saturday night's game that he might be starting on Sunday instead of Tuesday against the Orioles.

Duffy got through four scoreless innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second, and had a 3-0 lead. Francoeur homered in the second inning and Gordon in the fifth.

Between the home runs, a little slapstick comedy courtesy of the Indians gave the Royals another run in the fourth.

Francoeur walked and Mike Moustakas' shot along the first-base line was ruled fair. Santana, the first baseman, seemed so stunned by this decision that he stood staring toward right field and blocked the path of Moustakas, who crashed into him. While Moustaskas recovered his balance and went on his merry way to second base, right fielder Kosuke Fukudome's throw squirted away from second baseman Jason Kipnis and the error let Francoeur dash across the plate.

Duffy's shutout vanished with Kipnis' first big league homer in the fifth.

"In our scouting report, he's known as being kind of effectively wild and sometimes the fastball will run right over the plate, and that's kind of what I was hoping for, and I got lucky enough to put a good swing on it," Kipnis said.

Asdrubal Cabrera's double and Santana's triple added a second run off Duffy in the fifth. But that was all, so it was a good rebound for Duffy after getting bruised badly in Boston.

"I got hit around in Boston a little bit and I made it a point to help us come home with more wins than losses on the road trip," he said.

Louis Coleman, Tim Collins and Greg Holland preceded Soria as the Royals' relievers. The lone run came off Holland.

In the end, the Royals felt pretty good about the way they'd played against Boston, the leader of the American League East, and Cleveland, contending for the AL Central title.

"A great road trip," Gordon said. "Tough loss last night, but a great bounce-back win. It was nice to get Soria a couple of runs coming in instead of just one, so it was big."

"It was awesome to go 4-3 against two very good teams," Francoeur said. "It'll be nice to get a day off and hopefully to continue at home."

Overall, the Royals are 18-33 on the road, but return to Kansas City where they stand 28-29 for a homestand that begins on Tuesday night against Baltimore.

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