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Sports

Royals clip Cleveland

September 23, 2012

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— Billy Butler is wrapping up a career year, and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost thinks the slugger is capable of more.

Butler hit a run-scoring single in the first inning to reach 100 RBIs for the first time, and the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, on Saturday night.

The designated hitter also doubled twice in his 53rd multihit game, raising his batting average to .312. He also has a career-best 27 homers this season.

“I said last year Billy was a 30-100 RBI guy,” Yost said. “He’s got some work to do. I think Billy is capable of being a huge run producer in the American League, that guy that’s capable of having 120, 130 RBIs every year.

“He just keeps getting better and better. He hit a double off (Ubaldo) Jimenez. It was a curveball where he started and stopped and blasted it. Hitters can’t do that. Only a few can do what he can do.”

Butler became the first Royals player to drive in at least 100 runs since Carlos Beltran had 100 RBIs in 2003.

“You start off the season with a goal in mind and obviously being in the middle of the lineup and a run producer, that’s a big goal,” Butler said. “It’s great to get behind you and keep playing.”

Butler said reaching 30 homers is not a big deal for him.

“There’s always other years,” he said. “I’m going to continue to drive the ball. I feel like I’m going to continue to get stronger and better.”

Alcides Escobar doubled in Jarrod Dyson, then scored on Butler’s base hit to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead in the first.

Cord Phelps hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which has dropped 11 of 14. The Indians have the worst record in the American League since the All-Star break at 18-49.

Royals rookie Will Smith (6-8) allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings to improve to 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA in his last six starts.

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