"I didn't know [it was a career high] until after the game," Perez said. "It felt really good."
Added manager Ned Yost: "Salvy had a great night. Big three-run homer."
Right-hander Yordano Ventura started for the Royals and survived five innings, giving up six hits and two runs while walking three and striking out six.
Shane Greene had command issues and was chased with one out in the fifth. He gave up six hits and walked four, while being charged with seven earned runs.
"Leadoff walks, two-out walks, they all come back and haunt you," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Aggressive sends: Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele tested Tigers left fielder Justin Upton early twice, and it got the Royals' offense going. In the second inning, Jarrod Dyson, just off the disabled list, blooped a single to left and Jirschele sent slow-running Kendrys Morales from second base. The throw from Upton beat Morales easily, but the ball skipped past Saltalamacchia. In the third inning, Perez shot a double down the line in left with runners on first and second. Jirschele sent Gordon, who had been on first, home, and Gordon easily beat Upton's errant throw.
Saltalamacchia homers again: Saltalamacchia couldn't handle Upton's throw home in the second inning, helping the Royals build their lead, but he handled Danny Duffy's breaking ball in the seventh to try to bring the Tigers back. Saltalamacchia's three-run home run, a 423-foot drive to straightaway center field according to Statcast™, was his third homer in as many games, and his fifth this season.
Herrera puts out fire: Royals reliever Joakim Soria inherited an 8-5 lead in the eighth but quickly got into trouble with two hits and a walk around a strikeout. In came Kelvin Herrera to face Miguel Cabrera, and Herrera promptly struck him out on three straight sliders. Herrera plunked Victor Martinez in the right knee with a slider, forcing in a run, making it 8-6. But Herrera then got J.D. Martinez to pop out.
"Quite frankly, [Soria] is having hard luck," Yost said. "Every ground ball is finding a hole against him."
Herrera and Cabrera matched up in a classic 10-pitch duel at Kauffman Stadium last May, and Herrera won it with a 98-mph fastball for strike three. This time, Herrera went all sliders.
"I remembered that at-bat last year," Herrera said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I thought he would be looking for [fastball] again. I thought I would change it up with the slider, maybe get the ground ball. ... He's a great hitter."
Traffic jam for Cabrera: Longtime Royals nemesis Miguel Cabrera, flummoxed for most of the evening by Ventura's changeup, put the Tigers on the scoreboard in the fifth inning with a two-run double into the right-field corner off Ventura's fastball, atoning for a bases-loaded opportunity squandered with a strikeout in the third.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Saltamacchia became the first catcher in Tigers history to hit five home runs in the team's first 12 games of a season. He's the first Tigers catcher with a three-game homer streak since Alex Avila in August 2011.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann, owner of 13 consecutive scoreless innings to begin his Detroit tenure, gets his first taste of the Tigers-Royals rivalry in the second game of the series Wednesday night at 7:15 p.m. ET. Zimmermann -- then with the Nationals -- tossed 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball at Kansas City in his only meeting with the Royals in 2013.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy gets the nod in Game 2 of the series in a 6:15 p.m. CT start on Wednesday. Kennedy has dazzled in his first two starts, both wins, posting a 0.66 ERA.