CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer finally felt like himself Wednesday.
Bauer struck out a season-high 12 and held Kansas City to one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 5-3 win over the Royals.
The win was only the second since April 30 for Bauer, a stretch that has left him searching for answers the past couple of months.
“It’s been a struggle, but hopefully that’s all in the past now,” Bauer said.
Bauer (6-6) had the 23rd double-figure strikeout game of his career and his fourth this season. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until rookie Humberto Arteaga singled with two outs in the fifth.
Bauer says some physical limitations have caused a dip in both the velocity and movement on his pitches.
“Everyone’s banged up throughout the year,” he said. “But I’m working through it. Feel good about where I’m at right now.”
Bauer matched a career high by throwing 127 pitches, the final hitting 97 mph on a walk to Cam Gallagher. He got a standing ovation and tipped his cap on the way to the dugout after being removed with two on in the seventh.
“From the first pitch of the game, he looked so much more like Trevor,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “All his pitches crisp, velocity. When you’ve got a guy who can pitch over 120 and that’s the hardest pitch of the day, that’s saying something.”
Jake Bauers and Tyler Naquin homered off Jakob Junis in the fourth. Bauers had gone 15 at-bats without a hit before his leadoff blast.
Jason Kipnis, Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow also drove in runs for Cleveland. Francisco Lindor was 3 for 4 and scored two runs.
Junis (4-7) allowed four runs in six innings and hasn’t won since May 30.
“It was all right,” Junis said. “It could have been better because I made a couple of mistakes. They took advantage of my fastball over the plate.”
Lucas Duda homered in the ninth for Kansas City off Nick Wittgren. Pinch-hitter Alex Gordon singled in a run before Wittgren struck out Billy Hamilton and Whit Merrfield to end the game. The Royals struck out 16 times.
Hunter Dozier, whose ninth-inning grand slam off closer Brad Hand gave the Royals an 8-6 win on Tuesday night, struck out in all four at-bats.
Bauer hit Gallagher with a 3-2 breaking pitch with one out in the third. He also hit Jorge Soler in the left shoulder to lead off the seventh.
Bauer was removed after Gallagher drew a two-out walk, but Nick Goody retired Billy Hamilton on a popup.
Arteaga hit a sharp ground ball under the glove of first baseman Bobby Bradley, who made a diving attempt in the fifth. After Gallagher singled to right, Hamilton’s bloop double scored Arteaga.
Royals: C Salvador Pérez (right elbow) has been cleared to resume catching on the side, but is still not permitted to throw a baseball. The six-time All-Star underwent Tommy John surgery on March 6 and is not expected to play this season.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber will undergo tests on his broken right arm Thursday. He’ll begin playing catch if the results show the bone is still healing properly. ... RHP Carlos Carrasco, who was diagnosed with a blood condition, has been playing catch with his teammates. “It’s not gonna hurt him in any way and they’ve encouraged him to have activity,” Francona said.
The Indians will have their first day off since June 13 on Thursday. Francona doesn’t want his relievers to show up at Progressive Field.
“Our bullpen really deserves a day away from the ballpark,” he joked. “If they come in to throw they should be released.”
Royals right-hander Homer Bailey is riding a three-start winning streak for the first time since 2014 and has a team-high seven victories.
Manager Ned Yost credits pitching coach Cal Eldred for helping Bailey bounce back from a 1-14 season with the Reds.
“When we talked about bringing Homer in, Cal said, ‘Look, I think I’ve seen some things on video that we can fix,’” Yost said. “He started working with him when we got to spring training. Homer has been really good ever since.”
Bailey’s next start is scheduled for Saturday against Toronto.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (3-3, 4.48 ERA) opens a four-game series Friday at Toronto. He pitched a season-high eight innings against Minnesota in a no-decision on June 22.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger (1-1, 2.70), who sprained his left ankle on June 17 at Texas, will be activated off the 10-day injured list to start Friday at Baltimore.