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Kinsler's blast helps power Tigers past Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Justin Verlander threw 6 2/3 innings of strong ball, giving up just two earned runs, and Ian Kinsler pounded a two-run homer as the Tigers held off the Royals for a 6-5 win on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals' lead in the American League Central was cut to 12 games with Minnesota's win over the White Sox.

Verlander gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out four.

Video: [email protected]: Verlander strikes out four over 6 2/3 innings

"It wasn't spectacular," Verlander said, "but it was nice to go out there and get a win for the team."

Right-hander Johnny Cueto had his third straight wobbly start, giving up nine hits and four runs through six innings. Kendrys Morales homered for the and Alex Gordon had two hits and an RBI in his return from the disabled list for Royals.

Said Cueto of his three-game slide, "[Slumps are] obviously part of the game. Every player has a streak like this. I'm not concerned because I'm well aware it's going to turn around and I'm going to help this club do what it needs to do.

"I know [the slump] isn't going to last long. It's just a bad streak. I feel good. My command has been off and on."

Kinsler stays hot: After closing out a 38-hit, 15-RBI August, Kinsler started his September by continuing his second-half surge. His two-out RBI single up the middle provided an add-on run in the fourth before he jumped a full-count offering from Miguel Almonte for a two-run homer in the seventh, his 10th homer of the year.

Video: [email protected]: Kinsler lines an RBI single up the middle

Two-out Kendrys strikes again: Morales came into the game leading the Majors with 47 two-out RBIs -- that also established a new club record, eclipsing Joe Randa's 46 in 2000. Morales made it 48 in the fourth when he belted his 16th home of the season off Verlander that made it a 4-2 score.

Verlander revival: Verander didn't have the same dominance as in his one-hit shutout five games earlier, but he came up with big pitches when he needed to. He escaped a two-on, none-out jam by retiring Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar and Ben Zobrist in order in the fifth. Facing another jam in the seventh, Verlander tuned up his fastball to 97 mph on his 103rd pitch of the night to strike out Dyson. More >

"It feels good," Verlander said. "Honestly, I still feel like there's more in there, just fine-tune the mechanics a little bit still. But like I've said a few times, 97 is plenty good enough at this level. It's just you've gotta trust it."

Major League debut: Almonte, just called up from Triple-A Omaha earlier in the day, pitched the seventh for the Royals. He was greeted rudely, giving up a single on his first pitch to Anthony Gose. The next batter, Kinsler, rocked a two-run homer. Almonte survived the rest of his debut, but those two runs turned out to be vital. More >

Video: [email protected]: Almonte retires Miggy in his MLB debut

"We knew we were really limited [in the bullpen] to [Jeremy] Guthrie and Almonte when we were behind," manager Ned Yost said. "We know what kind of stuff Almonte has -- 98-mph fastball, good curve, good change. But when you're making you're Major League debut, you know you'll have some jitters there so we opted to back him up with Guthrie [the next inning]."

"It was a nice win. After the series in Toronto, we needed it. That was a tough one to swallow, that whole series. It was just nice to come out this series and come out with a W." -- Verlander

Morales' home run ended a stretch of 35 homerless innings for Verlander. His previous home run allowed also came from a Royal, Salvador Perez, on Aug. 4 at Comerica Park.

Tigers: Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf (0-2, 2.57 ERA) will start the middle game of this road series on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Wolf has allowed four runs on 14 hits over 14 innings with 10 strikeouts in two starts with Detroit.

Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (9-7, 4.41) will get the ball on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT for the second of this three-game set at Kauffman Stadium. Ventura has logged four straight quality starts, including six shutout innings and a career-high 11 strikeouts in a win over the Orioles in his last outing.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Johnny Cueto, Justin Verlander