Austin Jackson capped off a big night at the plate and in the field with another clutch play.
Jackson hit a tiebreaking RBI single into right field in the eighth inning for his third hit of the game and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-4, on Saturday.
“That’s a reason why I’ve had success this year, being able to hit the ball the other way,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to stay with that approach and stay consistent with that and it’s worked well for me.”
Jackson also hit a solo homer in the fifth for the Tigers (68-68), who have won three straight to reach .500 for the first time since Aug. 24.
Kila Ka’aihue hit a tying two-run homer in the sixth and finished with three RBIs for the Royals. Billy Butler had three hits and drove in a run.
Max St. Pierre and Will Rhymes set up Jackson’s final hit with consecutive one-out singles. It was St. Pierre’s first big league hit after 14-plus years in the minors and Rhymes extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
“It was even better than I thought,” St. Pierre said. “The crowd stood up. It was an unbelievable feeling. I had to hold myself back not to cry. I said I can’t start crying here, they’re going to think I’m a baby. It took 14 years to get here, but I’d do it all over again.”
Jackson then singled on Blake Wood’s first pitch, driving in pinch-runner Brennan Boesch. Rhymes scored on Lucas May’s passed ball to make it 6-4.
“A guy like that who throws hard, if he give you a first-pitch fastball that you can handle, you want to try to jump on it as soon as possible with runners in scoring position,” Jackson said. “He has secondary pitches that are pretty nasty. I was just looking for a fastball to hit early in the count.”
In the sixth, Jackson raced to the warning track to rob Alex Gordon of extra bases.
“I like making the catch,” more than the hits, Jackson said. “That’s fun to me, trying to keep some runs off the board. That’s what I take pride in.”
Rick Porcello (8-11) pitched seven innings for the Tigers, yielding four runs and seven hits. Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 25th save in 28 opportunities.
Royals reliever Dusty Hughes (1-2) was charged with two runs, one earned, and two hits, recording just one out in the loss.
Bruce Chen, who leads the Royals with nine victories, allowed four runs and six hits in 42⁄3 innings.
“It was tough,” Chen said. “I felt like I was battling all day. I didn’t have my good stuff, but I just felt I threw a lot of pitches and they were fouling them off. They were tough.”
Kila Ka’aihue tied it in the sixth inning at 4-4 with an opposite-field drive with Billy Butler aboard. It was Ka’aihue’s third homer this season, with each coming against the Tigers.