Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who had beaten the Royals twice this season, went 7 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and three runs, while striking out five.
"[Tomlin] and Vargas looked like mirror images of each other, just left-handed and right-handed," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We could get on, but then we got big [swings] for rollover ground-ball outs."
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 17 games -- longest active one in the Major Leagues -- with an RBI double in the seventh. Mike Moustakas hit his 14th home run in the eighth inning.
"That was a big moment in the game," Merrifield said of his double. "Got that extra run home. ... And a nice bonus [extending his hitting streak]."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The big replay: With two out in the the sixth inning, Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain was initially ruled out on a throw from Tomlin to first base. After a review, the call was overturned as replay officials determined Cain's foot hit the bag before the ball struck first baseman Carlos Santana's glove. In the process, Alcides Escobar scored from third base and the Royals took a 1-0 lead. More >
"I thought he was safe with the naked eye," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But you still need to check [with replay specialist Bill Duplissea] to be sure. I've thought plays were safe before and been wrong."
Double trouble all night: The Royals turned four double plays behind Vargas, perhaps none bigger than the one he got in the first inning. With one out, Francisco Lindor singled and then took third on Michael Brantley's single to right. But Vargas then got Carlos Santana to roll a grounder to Merrifield behind second base -- Merrifield stepped on the bag and threw to first for an easy double play. More >
"That guy [Vargas] has been a tough customer," Tomlin said. "He's been doing it against the whole league. I got outpitched by him tonight."
Vargas said the double plays were huge.
"Any time you can get two outs with one pitch," Vargas said, "that helps everyone. It helps the defense, helps the pitcher."
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-2, 2.89 ERA) will try to continue his road mastery on Saturday in the middle game of the series at 2:15 p.m. ET. Carrasco is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA through five road starts this year.
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (1-6, 6.18) will take the mound against the Indians on Saturday at 1:15 p.m CT. Hammel gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings on Monday in a 10-7 loss to Detroit.