Kansas City, Mo. Miguel Cabrera ended a scoreless duel with one two-out swing in the sixth inning.
Cabrera hit his 17th home run of the season, Justin Verlander pitched seven strong innings and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, on Saturday night.
Cabrera, who leads the majors with 52 RBIs, broke up the pitching duel between Verlander and Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar with the homer to left.
In his past 13 games, Cabrera has nine homers and 16 RBIs. He’s hitting an AL-leading .390 on the road. In 46 career games against the Royals, he is batting .358 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs.
“Great players do great things,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Verlander (6-4), 10-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 career starts against the Royals, gave up two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He, too, is awed by Cabrera’s offensive prowess.
“I think it is amazing for everybody, the talent and ability he possesses,” Verlander said. “We’re around the best ballplayers in the world and he amazes us day in and day out. That’s something pretty special. The guy does it day in and day out.
“The thing that is so special about him is you can come to one game or every game and get an appreciation of what he does. You can come to one game and see the 450-foot homers and the sharp-hit singles.”
Cabrera started the Tigers’ three-run eighth with a two-out single. Carlos Guillen’s two-run double with two out in the eighth scored Cabrera and Brennan Boesch. Brandon Inge singled home Guillen for the final run, with all the runs off rookie reliever Blake Wood.
“I left the ball up and they hit it,” Wood said. “What can you say? It’s the big leagues. They’re supposed to hit those.”
Jason Kendall doubled on a 10-pitch at-bat and David DeJesus singled to open the Kansas City two-run eighth and chase Verlander. Joel Zumaya replaced Verlander and threw six pitches, no strikes, before leaving with a finger blister. Phil Coke replaced Zumaya and gave up a RBI single to Jose Guillen and a fielder’s choice grounder to Alberto Callaspo that scored DeJesus.
Jose Valverde, who finished for his 12th save in 13 opportunities, came in and got Mike Aviles to ground into a double play to end the eighth.
“Zumaya had a callous, which ripped open a little bit and was burning him,” Leyland said. “He should be fine for tomorrow. It’s one of those you can file down. It’s not like a raw total blister. I never like to bring my closer in the eighth inning, but what a job Valverde did. In that situation I had no choice. I had to take a shot with him.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar (5-4) struck out a season-high 10 and allowed one run on six hits in seven innings.
“Some games are like that when you’re going up against a pitcher like (Justin) Verlander,” Hochevar said. “It’s going to be a low-scoring game, and that mistake (Cabrera’s homer) cost me, but that’s baseball. I was trying to go down and in, and the ball stayed up. That was a mistake. He’s too good of a hitter to get the ball up to.”
Hochevar worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth when he walked two and Guillen singled, but he struck out Roman Santiago and retired Austin Jackson on a grounder to end the inning.
Notes: LHP John Parrish (rotator cuff inflammation) and OF Rick Ankiel (pulled right quad) will begin minor league rehab assignments Tuesday with Triple-A Omaha. Both are on the Royals’ disabled list. ... Tigers RF Magglio Ordonez was not in the lineup. Leyland said Ordonez needed a day off.