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Tigers hold off Kansas City, 3-2

September 16, 2013

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— After Kansas City tied the game in the top of the eighth, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was confident he could keep the Detroit Tigers at bay for another inning.

His manager was, too — and they both ended up being wrong.

“I thought he could get us to the end,” manager Ned Yost said. “In hindsight, I pushed him too far, but I thought he could get us through the bottom of the order and maybe get the win or turn it over to the ‘pen with a tie game.”

Alex Avila homered twice off Guthrie, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth inning that lifted the Tigers over the Royals 3-2 Sunday. It was a tough loss for Kansas City, which remained 31⁄2 games back in the AL wild-card race.

Guthrie (14-11) ended up pitching all eight innings for the Royals. He allowed three runs and 13 hits, struck out four and walked one.

Kansas City’s bullpen has been outstanding, but Guthrie was still in the game when Avila homered to right-center in the eighth.

“I felt much stronger after the fifth, so I was very confident going back out there for the eighth,” Guthrie said. “I just made a bad pitch.”

Scherzer struck out 12 in seven innings but was denied his 20th victory when Kansas City tied it off Drew Smyly (6-0) in the eighth. Joaquin Benoit got three outs for his 20th save in 20 chances for the AL Central-leading Tigers.

Avila’s first homer was a two-run drive in the second. Alex Gordon hit a solo homer for Kansas City in the fourth.

Scherzer has two losses and two no-decisions since a 19-1 start but was terrific Sunday. The right-hander allowed a run and five hits with one walk, pitching out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh to preserve a one-run lead.

“He’s really good. He’s got 19 wins for a reason,” Yost said. “I thought we did a nice job of battling him, but he’s tough. He’s got the slider and the curve, a great change, and then a good fastball that he can change speeds on. You aren’t going to get much against him.”

Detroit left 10 men on base. In the fifth, Miguel Cabrera led off with a single and Prince Fielder followed with a double. They were stranded when Guthrie retired Victor Martinez, Andy Dirks and Omar Infante on consecutive groundouts.

“I spent the whole game with guys on base pretty much,” Guthrie said. “They chased some pitches out of the zone and helped me out.”

Gordon’s solo homer down the line in right field to lead off the fourth made it 2-1, and Bonifacio followed with a single. Scherzer found a groove after that, retiring 10 of 11 with nine strikeouts before a one-out single by Salvador Perez in the seventh.

NOTES: Bonifacio was picked off by Scherzer in the first — the third straight game a Kansas City player was picked off. Toronto is the only other team to have that happen this year, according to STATS. The Blue Jays had a runner picked off three straight games in May. ... Detroit hosts Seattle on Monday night, with RHP Rick Porcello (12-8) facing LHP Joe Saunders (11-14). Kansas City takes on Cleveland. Royals RHP James Shields (11-9) opposes LHP Scott Kazmir (8-8).

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