Detroit Aaron Crow threw a fastball high and outside, perhaps hoping slugger Miguel Cabrera would let it go by and take the walk.
Instead, the reigning Triple Crown winner swung for the fences and cleared one in right with a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth inning that lifted the Detroit Tigers to a 6-5 win over Kansas City on Saturday night, hours after Royals infielder Miguel Tejada was suspended for at least the rest of this season for testing positive for an amphetamine.
“Not many guys can hit a ball like that the other way but he’s a special player,” Crow said.
Cabrera has been slowed by a strained lower abdomen, injured hip and banged-up left leg, but he was healthy enough to take a victory lap.
Joaquin Benoit (3-0) gave up only one walk in the ninth for the win.
Prince Fielder hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning and made a good defensive play for the third out of the ninth.
Crow (7-4) threw five pitches, with Cabrera hitting his 3-1 offering for an opposite field homer, his 39th.
“There’s not three hitters in baseball that could hit that pitch out of the ballpark,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s one of them. Take your hat off to him.”
Kansas City tied the game for a third time in the eighth inning when Emilo Bonifacio singled, stole second, advanced on a throwing era by Detroit’s backup catcher and scored on Chris Getz’s RBI single off Jose Veras.
“We couldn’t get the lead,” Yost said.
The AL Central-leading Tigers have a 7½-game cushion on the third-place Royals, but Yost likes how his team matches up.
“They’ve got a lot more power than we have, but I think our pitching is comparable,” Yost said. “I think our defense is better, but their offensive output is better.”
After throwing a season-high 118 pitches, Detroit’s Doug Fister was replaced by Drew Smyly, who gave up a game-tying homer to Salvador Perez on a 1-2 count with two outs in the seventh.
Kansas City starter Wade Davis allowed four runs on eight hits and lasted just 3 2-3 innings.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland and catcher Brayan Pena were ejected in the fourth inning after a call went against Detroit and helped Kansas City tie the game.
The Tigers were angry because Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar appeared to foul off a pitch with a check swing after the ball hit the dirt. The umpiring crew, though, ruled that it was a wild pitch and that allowed Chris Getz to advance from first to third base.
Leyland was ejected and went on the field a second time, directing a demonstrative rant toward first base umpire Bob Davidson.
After Escobar hit a game-tying double, Pena had more to say about the call and was tossed by plate umpire Mike Muchlinski.
Davidson took the blame for missing the call, and the Royals acknowledged getting a break.
In the home half of the inning, Cabrera put Detroit up 4-3 with his 24th double.
Kansas City scored two in the third inning on consecutive singles by Alex Gordon and Perez and tied it in the fourth after the disputed call that led to Leyland and Pena being ejected. The Royals tied the game with Perez’s fifth homer in the seventh and Fielder’s line drive over the right-center wall — his 19th homer, and second of the series — put Detroit back ahead by a run.
Tejada will not be back in baseball any time soon, if at all.
He became the third former MVP in a month to be suspended, getting suspended for 105 games. His ban came after Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games —he’s appealing the ruling — and Brewers star Ryan Braun got a 65-game penalty that will keep him off the field for the rest of the season.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Tejada tested positive for Adderall, a substance the 39-year-old has used to treat attention deficit disorder. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because those details were not made public.
Tejada apologized in a statement released by the players’ association, saying he made a mistake for taking a medication to treat a medical condition while re-applying for an exemption to use it. Tejada, who was already on the 60-day disabled list with a calf injury, previously tested positive under the league’s amphetamine policy. That subjected him to a 25-game ban for a second test and an 80-game suspension for a third.
“It was a loss the day he injured his calf and we knew that he’d probably be out for the season,” Yost said. “Everybody really respected Miggy when he was here. He was a tremendous asset in the locker room. He was a tremendous asset during the game. He played with all kind of injured, but since he’s been gone. He helped and we appreciate it. We just move on.”
NOTES: Moustakas played for the first time since leaving a game Monday with an injured left calf and Jamey Carroll pinch hit for him in the seventh. ... After saving two games at Detroit on Friday night, Yost kept closer Greg Holland out of the game, but said he will be available for Sunday’s series finale.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
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