KANSAS CITY -- These are teams going in opposite directions.
The Royals were handed their third straight stinging loss, the latest at the hands of the red-hot Tigers, who rallied for two runs in the ninth off All-Star closer Wade Davis for a 7-6 win on Friday night. Miguel Cabrera, who homered earlier, delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the ninth.
Davis, in his first game back from the disabled list, hit Ian Kinsler with a pitch. Then, José Iglesias hit a hard one-hopper under the glove of shortstop Alcides Escobar that rolled for double. That set up Cabrera's ground single to left.
Escobar thought he got a piece of the ball. "It was just hit really hard," he said.
Said Cabrera: "We got lucky, past a Gold Glover. He's so good over there."
But if Escobar had made the play, the Royals felt it would have been an easy double play.
"Sure," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But it was hit so hard it rolled by Gordy [left fielder Alex Gordon]."
Davis said he didn't want to be eased back in for his first outing off the DL.
"They asked me if I felt like I could go out and close," Davis said. "I said, 'Yeah, absolutely.' If I'm healthy, I don't think I can't get the job done for sure. I felt good, I felt clean, I felt crisp. No complaints on that part. Just the result."
The Tigers, who have won four straight and nine of 11, stayed tied with the Orioles for an American League Wild Card spot. The Royals, who had taken the lead in the eighth on Paulo Orlando's two-run single, dropped to four games behind Baltimore and Detroit.
"We have to keep fighting, try to fight all the way to the end," Cabrera said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Upton at it again: After a scorching finish to August, Justin Upton began his September just as hot. His second-inning homer off a Danny Duffy fastball went deep to left-center to open the scoring. An inning later, Upton's two-out single through the middle squeezed another run off a bases-loaded opportunity in the third.
Keep the line moving: The Royals started one of their classic keep-the-line-moving innings in the third. After Adalberto Mondesi reached on an error, two straight Royals made outs. Then, Eric Hosmer singled. Then, Kendrys Morales singled in a run. Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then, Alex Gordon ripped a two-run single to right, bringing the Royals within 4-3.
"It has been three straight tough losses," Gordon said. "Those are the types of game we're used to winning. But we got a lot of fight left."
The Hoz play: In the seventh inning, Hosmer took off for second with Cuthbert on third and two out, as if he were going for a delayed steal, perhaps hoping that Cuthbert would then take off for home. Cuthbert, though, is one of the slower Royals and he didn't budge. Hosmer then was rather easily thrown out trying to return to first.
"I thought maybe we could get [Cuthbert] going from third," Hosmer said. "But looking back, I shouldn't have stopped on the arm fake. I should have just stolen second."
Cabrera torments KC: Davis' first-pitch curveball to Cabrera was right where he wanted it, low and on the inside corner, but it didn't matter. Cabrera adjusted his swing for a ground ball through the left side for two runs in a piece of situational hitting. It completed a three-hit, four-RBI night that included his 29th home run. More >
"If that happened early in the game, I'm trying to hit the ball the other way," Cabrera said. "But right there, they're playing halfway. It was the ninth inning and I'm trying to make something happen. I'm trying to make good contact on the ball."
"I'm still thinking I should've made a better pitch than that, for sure. Right now, it's eating me up on the inside. I've got many options to go with and I didn't. The only positive I can take out of this is the guys were able to answer back with two runs. And at that point, I just have to shut it down one way or another." -- Francisco Rodríguez, who had a blown save in the eighth but picked up his 50th career win in the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cabrera's 108 career RBIs against the Royals are the third most among active players. His teammate, Victor Martinez, is tops with 116, followed by Joe Mauer at 111.
Tigers: Rookie Michael Fulmer (10-5, 2.69 ERA) will look to bounce back from consecutive losses when he takes the mound on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. ET in the middle game of the series. He'll be facing the Royals for the third time this season.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (9-9, 4.33) takes the mound for the Royals in the rematch at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Ventura gave up seven hits and three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of the Royals' 10-4 win over Boston last Sunday.
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