The Cleveland Indians' Josh Tomlin had gotten knocked around before turning in one of the team's best single-game showings last weekend.
He faces a tough task up next against the Kansas City Royals, who continue to shine on the road.
Tomlin tries to build on his first shutout as the AL Central rivals open a three-game set Friday night.
Tomlin (5-5, 3.78 ERA) lost a career worst-tying three straight starts with a 7.80 ERA before overpowering Seattle in Saturday's 5-0 road win. The right-hander struck out a career-high 11 and allowed only a fifth-inning single to Kyle Seager, marking just the sixth time an Indians pitcher recorded 11 strikeouts with no walks in a shutout over the past 100 years.
"He's not going to beat himself," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "He understands what to do with a lead. He was just efficient and threw a bunch of strikes with a bunch of different pitches."
Tomlin is 5-2 despite a 4.80 ERA in 10 games - eight starts - against the Royals, who he hasn't faced since 2012.
Kansas City (44-40) took two of three at Minnesota to open a nine-game trip, winning 4-0 in Wednesday's finale. Raul Ibanez homered in his second game since joining the team as a free agent and Jason Vargas threw seven strong innings.
The Royals have averaged 6.1 runs in going a major league-best 10-2 away from home since June 2.
"We've been running the ball out there and doing a good job of keeping our team in the ballgame, and when we're not the boys are stepping up and keeping us in the ballgame," Vargas said. "So we've got a good combo going on right now."
The Royals now turn to Yordano Ventura (5-7, 3.26), who allowed two runs and seven hits over four innings before his day was cut short due to a four-hour rain delay in Saturday's 6-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.
The rookie had gone seven innings in each of his previous three starts, including a 4-1 victory over the Indians on June 11. The hard-throwing right-hander yielded one run and six hits, improving to 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two matchups in the series.
The Indians (41-43) return home after closing a 4-4 road trip with back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"We went 4-4, but it seems like we were gone a month,' Francona said after Cleveland held on for a 5-4 victory Wednesday. "It's been a long trip, and this was a good way to end it. We won a tough game. That was a good one to win."
The Indians had won 11 of 12 at Progressive Field before losing three straight to division-leading Detroit from June 20-22. Owner of the Central's best home record at 23-15, Cleveland has taken nine of 12 from Kansas City at home.
At 42, Ibanez is the oldest Royal to hit a home run. He was signed Monday after the Angels cut him June 21.
"When we signed him, we talked to a lot of people, and all of our scouts," manager Ned Yost said. "And a lot of people said they felt that he still had a lot left to his game. He's showing that."
Alex Gordon - mired in a 2-for-32 slump - is 8 for 23 with four extra-base hits against Tomlin.
Indians catcher Yan Gomes is batting .326 over a 12-game stretch and has seven RBIs over his last seven. He's hitting .185 with two RBIs in 16 contests versus Kansas City, though.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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