Owen Miller hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning, plenty of support for McKenzie, who has dominated the Royals throughout his young career.
A day after being activated from the injured list, McKenzie (4-5) showed no ill effects from his recent shoulder fatigue and improved to 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in six appearances against Kansas City. He struck out six Thursday and has 38 punchouts over 28 2/3 innings against the AL Central foe.
“If he’s efficient, that’s into the sixth inning,” Cleveland acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “He got to that point tonight. He probably was strong enough that he could have gone more, but we were going to stick to our plan.
“He went down (to the minors early in the season) and made adjustments. When he returned you could see those adjustments. He’s continued to grow into a major league pitcher.”
McKenzie said he settled in once he gave up a run in the second.
“I kind of let the guys behind me work," he said. "I focused on attacking the strike zone and keeping the same principles we were working on prior to going on the IL.”
Cleveland has won 11 straight games against the Royals, the longest winning streak over Kansas City in club history.
Emmanuel Clase pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances.
Mike Minor (8-12) was dominant for the first four innings, allowing just one hit. Things went south quickly in the fifth. He finished with three runs (two earned) on five hits in five innings.
Hunter Dozier hit a two-out single in the second to give the Royals their first run.
Harold Ramirez led off the fifth reaching on an error by third baseman Emmanuel Rivera. Yu Chang then singled before Miller hit a drive 390 feet into the seats in left field for his fourth home run of the season.
“Any time we can contribute in the bottom of the order like that, that just shows that we’ve got a good team,” Miller said. “We’ve been playing pretty good and we’ve been putting together good at bats.”
Chang drove in Jose Ramirez with his second single in the eighth inning. Ramirez led off with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Chang beat the shift with a sharp single to right.
The Royals had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth, only the second time in the game they had two runners reach base in an inning, but Salvador Perez flew out and Andrew Benintendi grounded out.
“We’ve had trouble with (McKenzie) for a while,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “We just have trouble getting anything going off of him at all. When we’re playing well we figure out ways to get guys on and create pressure. There were not a lot of opportunities today.”
The Royals got a run off Clase in the ninth on an RBI groundout by Edward Olivares.
Royals INF Adalberto Mondesi was not in the lineup after returning from the injured list Wednesday, and Matheny said it was a scheduled day off. Mondesi played Wednesday for the first time since June 20 because of a left oblique strain. He has only played 11 games this season and was the designated hitter Wednesday. He likely will see time at third base when he’s in the field.
The Royals continue the homestand with a three-game series against the first place White Sox. Matheny has not yet named a starter to oppose Chicago’s LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-7, 5.00 ERA).
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