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Tigers alone in first place after edging Royals

September 27, 2012

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— Most of the 32,360 fans at Comerica Park groaned when Jhonny Peralta hit a tailor-made double-play grounder that looked set to end the eighth inning.

Andy Dirks made them cheer.

Jhonny Peralta’s grounder brought home the go-ahead run because Dirks’ hard slide broke up a potential inning-ending double play in the eighth, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals, 5-4, Wednesday night.

“I was just trying to break up the double play and try to get a piece of him any way I could to help us score that run,” Dirks said. “That’s just kind of the way you play baseball.”

Detroit wound up alone in first place for the first time since before play on July 24 when the White Sox lost to Cleveland later.

Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera was robbed of a tiebreaking home run in the fifth inning by Alex Gordon’s catch above the left-field wall.

Detroit found a way to break through the eighth.

It appeared as if Kansas City was going to keep the score tied when Peralta hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Moustakas. Dirks, though, slid so late and hard that second baseman Irving Falu didn’t attempt a throw, allowing pinch-runner Don Kelly to score what he said was most important run of his career.

“Peralta was slow getting out of the box, so that’s an easy double play,” Moustakas said. “I’m always going to go to second on that play, but Dirks did a heck of a job to break it up.”

Dirks was swarmed by teammates in the dugout to celebrate the gritty, clean play he made.

“That’s good, old-fashioned baseball,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

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