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Defense comes up big in Royals' narrow win

Gordon robs homer, Cain makes sliding grab as Kansas City holds off Detroit
Special to MLB.com

DETROIT -- Alex Gordon often practices robbing home runs during batting practice when the Royals' heavy hitters, such as Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, are going deep. It paid off in a big way in Monday's 7-6 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Gordon took back what would have been a two-out, three-run homer from Detroit's Mikie Mahtook in the fourth inning of a 5-0 game. It turned out to be a huge defensive save as a Tigers' ninth-inning rally fell just short in Kansas City's win.

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DETROIT -- Alex Gordon often practices robbing home runs during batting practice when the Royals' heavy hitters, such as Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, are going deep. It paid off in a big way in Monday's 7-6 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Gordon took back what would have been a two-out, three-run homer from Detroit's Mikie Mahtook in the fourth inning of a 5-0 game. It turned out to be a huge defensive save as a Tigers' ninth-inning rally fell just short in Kansas City's win.

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"Trust me, when I take BP, I actually practice that a little bit when Sally, Hos and Moose are hitting," Gordon said. "I go back to the fence and just play with it a little bit. It's a short fence, and you can grab it and get over it a little bit, so just something I do during BP."

Video: KC@DET: Gordon leaps to rob Mahtook of a homer

While Gordon's robbery saved the Royals three runs, center fielder Lorenzo Cain came up with a big play of his own. Cain's sliding play saved two more runs in the sixth inning. With runners at second and third with two outs, Cain came charging in on a Jose Iglesias line drive.

"Save runs. That's what we try to do as defenders," Gordon said. "It's pretty frustrating for an offense when you go out there and make plays like that. Give them credit. They fought back pretty hard."

"That was a huge play, too," manager Ned Yost said. "We made some great defensive plays today. Cain's play, closing ground extremely fast and making the play, because that would have tied the ballgame at that point."

Video: KC@DET: Yost discusses Gordon's catch in 7-6 win

It's safe to say the Royals' outfielders played a big role in getting a win that pulled the club back to .500 as it continues its American League Wild Card chase. The Royals have a four-game set at home vs. the Twins, who hold the second AL Wild Card spot, looming this weekend.

While the Royals had fallen pretty far back in the Wild Card standings about a week ago, Gordon said the thoughts around the clubhouse are that they've been right in the thick of it all along.

"We haven't lost hope or anything like that," Gordon said. "There's a lot of teams kind of bunched in the middle of the Wild Card, so we've just got to keep plugging and not worry about what other teams are doing."

Kyle Beery is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Royals on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kansas City Royals, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon