Kansas City, Mo. Closer David Riske thought Ivan Rodriguez would be bunting with two runners on base and none out in the ninth.
"That's what I get for thinking," Riske said.
Instead of the bunt sign, Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Rodriguez the green light, and Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off Riske to give the Tigers a 3-2 win over Kansas City on Sunday.
"In that situation, it could be anything," Rodriguez said. "They know sometimes I can bunt or swing the bat. With the tying run at first base, sometimes you've got to put those runners in scoring position. Jim likes to play the game like that. He gave me the green light, and he threw it right where I wanted it, right down the middle, and I was able to connect for a home run.
"That's why you've got to play hard for 27 outs. Things can happen quickly."
Rodriguez hit the first pitch he saw out to left after Magglio Ordonez led off the inning with a double and Carlos Guillen walked. It was the 20th career home run against the Royals for Rodriguez, a .352 hitter at Kauffman Stadium.
"I thought Pudge was going to bunt, and I threw him a fastball down the middle," Riske said. "I'm thinking about trying to field the bunt and getting the next out instead of making a quality pitch, and it came back and bit me."
Fernando Rodney (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Todd Jones got his third save in three chances.
"We have one of the most potent offenses because these guys can score pretty quickly, so you've got to be prepared," Jones said. "After Pudge goes deep, you've got to make sure you get the job done. It changes the whole series. You don't want to waste it. Everybody else is up in the bullpen screaming when Pudge homers, but I can't enjoy it. I've got to get ready to go in and do my job."
Riske (0-1) gave up two hits and a walk for the Royals' first blown save. Kansas City led the majors with 31 last year.
Rodriguez spoiled an excellent start by Royals right-hander Brandon Duckworth, who pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. Duckworth, a non-roster invitee to spring training, was making his first start since July 23. He had elbow surgery on Aug. 15 to remove bone chips.
"My sinker was working well," Duckworth said. "I let my defense do the work. On a day like today, you want to keep your pitches low."
Duckworth earned the fifth spot in the Kansas City rotation when Luke Hudson went on the disabled list at the end of spring training with a sore right shoulder.
"He dominated us early in the game," Rodriguez said. "He was pitching great, keeping the ball down, using all his pitches."
After a double in the second by Guillen, Duckworth didn't allow another hit until Placido Polanco's single with two out in the sixth. Duckworth came out in the seventh after surrendering back-to-back singles to Guillen and Rodriguez.
After left-hander Jimmy Gobble retired Sean Casey, rookie Joakim Soria, the third pitcher of the inning, walked Marcus Thames to load the bases. But Soria got Brandon Inge to fly out to end the threat. Inge is 0-for-16.
Mark Teahen homered with two out in the first off Jeremy Bonderman, his first home run since Sept. 1.
Bonderman gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, while walking one intentionally and striking out eight.