Again tied atop the AL Central standings, the Detroit Tigers hope they're able to make the most of their latest opportunity.
Even with Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie standing in their way, the Tigers have a chance to take sole possession of the division lead Wednesday night when they try for a sixth straight home win over the Royals.
Anibal Sanchez struck out 10 while tossing a three-hitter Tuesday in Detroit's 2-0 win over Kansas City. That victory, coupled with Chicago's 4-3 loss to Cleveland earlier in the day, left the Tigers (82-72) and White Sox tied atop the Central."Nothing is over, nothing is in," Sanchez said. "We're right there."
The last time those clubs were tied atop the division was Sept. 2, when Detroit proceeded to drop six of its next seven to fall three games behind the White Sox. The Tigers have since won nine of 14 to square the division race but likely can't afford to take another step back."We control our own destiny. We've just got to continue to play good baseball," catcher Gerald Laird said. "We don't have to rely on anybody to beat anybody now. It's all on our shoulders."
Detroit, which concludes its regular season in Kansas City next week, has outscored the Royals 38-18 while going 6-1 against them at Comerica Park.
Guthrie (7-12, 4.80 ERA), however, is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in nine starts since losing to Texas on Aug. 3. The Royals (70-84) have won each of those contests during that stretch.
The right-hander allowed three runs - one earned - in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 win over Chicago on Thursday.
Guthrie gave up four runs and eight hits in three innings of a 5-0 loss at Detroit on June 17, but gave up one run without a walk in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 home win over the Tigers on Aug. 30.
Detroit star Miguel Cabrera is batting .368 (7 for 19) with two home runs versus Guthrie. In the midst of a potential triple crown season, Cabrera had his 14-game hitting streak snapped after going 0 for 3 on Tuesday.
He leads the AL with a .329 average and 133 RBIs, and his career-high 42 homers trail only Texas' Josh Hamilton .
Teammate Delmon Young is 4 for 8 with an RBI in the series.
Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.57) makes his first start in more than a week for the Tigers. The right-hander's last start Friday was postponed due to rain, then the team decided to skip his turn entirely.
Porcello, 0-6 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts since beating the Yankees on Aug. 7, gave up four runs - two earned - in 4 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Sept. 16.
"It's frustrating," Porcello told the Tigers' official website.
He is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA against the Royals this season.
Batting .346 (9 for 26) with a homer against Porcello, Alex Gordon had one of the Royals' three hits Tuesday. He's hitting .370 (10 for 27) in his last seven games against the Tigers.
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 18, 2012||Luis Mendoza||Day-to-Day||Strep throat|
|September 14, 2012||Lorenzo Cain||Day-to-Day||Left game - Strained right hamstring|
|August 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|August 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - fractured left thumb|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|September 18, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder fatigue|
|September 16, 2012||Austin Jackson||Day-to-Day||Sore left ankle|
|September 11, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained right quadriceps|
|August 23, 2012||Doug Fister||Day-to-Day||Tightness in right groin|
|August 23, 2012||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right ankle soreness|
|August 01, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
DETROIT (AP) -- Most of the 32,360 fans at Comerica Park groaned when Jhonny Peralta hit a tailor-made double-play grounder that looked set to end the eighth inning.
Andy Dirks made them cheer.
Jhonny Peralta 's grounder brought home the go-ahead run because Dirks' hard slide broke up a potential inning-ending double play in the eighth and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Wednesday night.
"I was just trying to break up the double play and try to get a piece of him any way I could to help us score that run," Dirks said. "That's just kind of the way you play baseball."
Detroit wound up alone in first place for the first time since before play on July 24 when the White Sox lost to Cleveland later.
Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera was robbed of a tiebreaking homer in the fifth inning by Alex Gordon 's catch above the left-field wall.
Detroit found a way to break through the eighth.
It appeared as if Kansas City was going to keep the score tied when Peralta hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Moustakas . Dirks, though, slid so late and hard that second baseman Irving Falu didn't attempt a throw, allowing pinch-runner Don Kelly to score what he said was most important run of his career.
"Peralta was slow getting out of the box, so that's an easy double play," Moustakas said. "I'm always going to go to second on that play, but Dirks did a heck of a job to break it up."
Dirks was swarmed by teammates in the dugout to celebrate the gritty, clean play he made.
"That's good, old-fashioned baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Delmon Young hit an infield single with one out in the eighth off Kelvin Herrera (4-3) and was replaced by Kelly, who stole second base and took third on Dirks' single.
Detroit's Alex Avila hit a two-run homer and Austin Jackson had a solo shot in the fourth inning to tie the game.
Cabrera, who went 0 for 4, started the day with the AL lead in batting average and RBIs and was one homer behind Texas' Josh Hamilton . Baseball hasn't had a player lead a league in all three categories since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Cabrera was close to pulling into at least a temporary tie with Hamilton for homers, but Gordon prevented him from hitting his 43rd homer.
"It was hit so high that I had plenty of time to find the fence and get ready," Gordon said. "I thought I might have to climb the wall or at least jump, but at the end, I just had to put my glove up."
The Tigers have won six of nine games on their final 10-game homestand and 32 of their last 43 games at Comerica Park. They had, however, lost 11 straight one-run games since beating Toronto 3-2 on Aug. 23.
Kansas City has lost four straight - three consecutive against Detroit - after winning four in a row, including two against the White Sox.
"I love my team," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've played three games here, and we're 0-3, but we're in these games and we're not far from the point where we are going to be consistently winning these teams.
"No matter what has happened this year, we've gotten knocked down and gotten right back up. These guys fight every day, and they are going to do everything in their power to beat Detroit in these games."
Detroit starter Rick Porcello lasted just four innings, giving up four runs and seven hits.
"His velocity dropped and that was a red flag for me," Leyland said.
Luis Marte got two outs in the fifth and Al Alburquerque gave up only one hit over 2 1-3 innings. Joaquin Benoit (4-3) allowed one hit in the eighth. Jose Valverde closed the game for his 32nd save in 37 chances.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over seven innings.
Young doubled and Dirks singled to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the second.
Kansas City went ahead 3-1 in the third inning after Falu, David Lough and Billy Butler doubled. Jeff Francoeur 's solo homer in the fourth inning gave the Royals a three-run lead.
NOTES: Detroit is sending Doug Fister (10-9) to the mound in its final scheduled home game Thursday afternoon against Kansas City and Luis Mendoza (8-9) before the Tigers close the regular season on the road against Minnesota and the Royals. ... Guthrie was 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his previous nine starts all of which were Kansas City wins. ... Porcello, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 16 because a rainout led to his previous scheduled start getting skipped, is 0-6 in his last eight outings. ... Yastrzemski told reporters in Boston on Wednesday that playing meaningful games down the stretch with help Cabrera's attempt to win the Triple Crown. "One thing that's going to help him is he's in a pennant race," Yastrzemski said. ... Falu matched a career high with three hits.