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ATL@KC: Mendoza fans six in 6 2/3 frames

KANSAS CITY -- The Indians are coming off a triumphant but exhausting stretch thanks to a rain delay on Thursday in Baltimore and a record-breaking seven-hour, 53-minute doubleheader on Friday.

In the midst of a 10-game road trip and fighting some nagging injuries, the Tribe swapped its starter for Tuesday's series opener against the Royals. Cleveland -- which pulled into a first-place tie with Detroit in the American League Central on Sunday -- will be going for a fifth straight win in the first of three at Kauffman Stadium.

Right-hander Corey Kluber will take the hill for the Indians, who opted to give left-hander Scott Kazmir an extra day of rest as he deals with back spasms. Kluber will be opposed by Luis Mendoza.

"We'll give Kazmir the extra day," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He came through it really good. We just thought it made sense to give him the extra day. As long as 'Klub' is OK, which he is, it made sense to back him up."

Kluber allowed seven runs over 4 2/3 innings in his last start. In eight previous starts, he went 4-2 with a 2.77 ERA. The right-hander is 6-5 with a 4.16 ERA on the year.

Kazmir isn't the only player taking an extra day, as second baseman Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher skipped Sunday's series-ending 4-0 win over the White Sox to get a breather. Kipnis reached base 11 times in the first three games and Swisher had game-winning hits in Friday's nightcap and Saturday's victory.

"I had walked it through with him about a week ago," Francona said of Kipnis. "We knew we had all these games, and I actually talked to just about everybody. I tried to get a feel for how we're going to approach this. He said, 'If you can get me to Sunday, because I'll play every game, then I'll take two in a row. I'll be good to go.' We knew all along what we were going to do. I think, actually -- and I don't want this to come out wrong -- but I think the fact that he knew he had this coming helped him."

Francona had a similar discussion with Swisher.

"They're coming off injuries," Francona said. "It's hard because [Swisher] is starting to feel good at the plate, but it's the right thing to do."

Despite their busy week, the Indians head to Kansas City having won 10 of their last 13.

The Royals enter Tuesday's opener trailing Cleveland by five games after splitting a four-game series with Minnesota.

In Mendoza's last start, on Wednesday, he worked 6 2/3 effective innings but took a no-decision. He left the game with two outs and the bases loaded and finished having allowed two runs on five hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.

"Phenomenal," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Mendoza's most recent effort. "He pitched great. He left the ballgame with a 3-0 lead and we ended up giving three runs. It's a shame he couldn't take advantage of that win, because he deserved it."

Royals: Giavotella shines in return to Majors
During Sunday's 9-8 win, his first game back with the Royals after being recalled from Triple-A Omaha, second baseman Johnny Giavotella went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.

In his first at-bat, Giavotella knocked an RBI single to second baseman Eduardo Escobar, and he followed with a single to center field the next inning. In the sixth, he doubled to center.

With his help and four hits by David Lough, the bottom three hitters in Kansas City's order had eight hits, six runs scored and five RBIs.

At the time of his callup, Giavotella was batting .287 with the Storm Chasers and riding a 10-game hitting streak during which he hit .472.

Indians: Kipnis finishes historic June
Despite resting on Sunday, Kipnis finished June as one of the most productive offensive players in the Majors.

He ranked first in on-base plus slugging percentage (1.216), OBP (.517) and hits (39). Kipnis placed second in average (.419), slugging percentage (.699) and extra-base hits (17). He has also reached base safely in 32 consecutive games.

Kipnis became just the 15th Cleveland player since 1921 to finish a month with a .400 batting average and an OPS of at least 1.200.

Worth noting
• Sunday was the first game since June 2 in which the Royals committed multiple errors.
• In the ninth inning on Sunday, Eric Hosmer hit his second homer of the series and his sixth in June.
• The Indians are six games over .500 for the first time since May 25.
• With Sunday's shutout, his third of the season, Justin Masterson became the second Indians pitcher over the last five seasons to win 10 games before the All-Star break. Comments