Kansas City, Mo. Justin Verlander finished off a miserable weekend for the Kansas City Royals.
The Detroit ace took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and won his fourth straight decision, leading the Tigers to a 9-4 victory Sunday that completed a three-game sweep and extended their winning streak to a season-high five games.
“We caught a team on fire,” said Billy Butler, who singled to right on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the sixth for the Royals’ first hit.
Butler has a .432 career average in 74 at-bats against Verlander.
“I didn’t make a good pitch,” Verlander said. “It was a fastball. I didn’t throw a good one.”
Kansas City’s only runners before the single were Nori Aoki, who walked three times, and Alex Gordon, who walked once.
“You’re never not aware of a no-hitter,” Butler said.
Detroit is 5-0 against the Royals this year and has won seven of eight overall. Kansas City, outscored 26-8 in the series, is 0-4 this month after going 8-20 last May.
“There’s nothing positive,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of this series. “We didn’t play well. They played great.”
Detroit’s three starters — the others were Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly — each pitched seven innings and limited the Royals to five runs and 10 hits over 21 innings.
Verlander (4-1) allowed three runs, four hits and four walks in seven innings with seven strikeouts. Jarrod Dyson hit a two-run triple in the seventh and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aoki.
“There are ups and downs. Hopefully, we’ll get over it soon,” Dyson said. “They swung the bats, and we didn’t. We’ve just got to bring our ‘A’ game. It wasn’t there all series.”
Backed with a 7-0 lead, Verlander improved to 17-5 against the Royals, the best winning percentage (.773) among active pitchers with 10 decisions or more.
“He had good offspeed stuff, and definitely a good fastball, it was moving,” Butler said. “He wasn’t giving in. He was locating. When he got in hitters’ counts, he wasn’t going to give in to the hitter. I think you can see that with the walks. He wasn’t just going to throw a fastball and say, ‘Hit it.’”
Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila homered for the Tigers, who had 16 hits, and Torii Hunter had three hits and three RBIs, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
Rajai Davis and Andrew Romine also had three hits each. Davis raised his average to .337, scored three runs and stole two bases, raising his total to 11. Romine’s three hits matched his career high.
Jason Vargas (2-1) gave up seven runs and 11 hits in five innings — he’s allowed 12 runs and 21 hits over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
“I don’t think it matters who is in first on May fourth,” Butler said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Notes: The Royals walked Victor Martinez intentionally twice Sunday and twice Saturday. ... Kansas City optioned RHP Aaron Brooks to Triple-A Omaha, a day after he gave up six runs and seven hits in two innings in his major-league debut. The Royals activated LHP Tim Collins from the DL. ... Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is to start today against Houston as the Tigers open a seven-game homestand. ... The Royals begin a seven-game trip today at San Diego, where they are 0-6.