KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer, Anibal Sanchez carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and the Detroit Tigers held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4 Sunday to salvage a split of their four-game series.
Alex Avila also drove in three runs for the Tigers, who dropped the first two games of the series before squeaking out a 2-1 victory behind David Price’s masterpiece Saturday night.
Sanchez (2-3) was just as good as his rotation mate. The right-hander did not allow a runner until Paulo Orlando dribbled a single up the middle leading off the sixth inning, and Sanchez wound up allowing three runs and four hits over 7 1/3 innings.
Kansas City nearly bailed out Jeremy Guthrie (1-2) by scoring two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth. But Tom Gorzelanny struck out Eric Hosmer to leave a runner aboard, and Joakim Soria shut down his former team in the ninth for his 10th save.
Guthrie struggled from the start, giving up an RBI single to Avila in the second inning and loading the bases for him in the fourth. Avila followed with a two-run single that cleared the bases when Orlando fumbled the ball.
Ian Kinsler added a single in the fifth before Cabrera hit his sixth homer this year.
Guthrie ended up allowing all six runs and 11 hits in six innings. The poor outing came after a dazzling start to the series by Kansas City pitchers, who had allowed Detroit’s potent offense to score just four runs total in the first three games.
It would have taken a similarly strong outing to hang with Sanchez, who has struggled this season — the Tigers had lost his last four starts — but has owned the Royals. He’d been 5-2 with a 1.07 ERA in his previous seven starts against the reigning American League champions.
With a crowd of 38,326 packed inside Kauffman Stadium, the third straight sellout, the right-hander calmly mowed through the Royals lineup for most of the afternoon.
Kansas City did not have its second baserunner until Sanchez walked Kendrys Morales with one out in the seventh. The Royals went on to score on Erik Kratz’s sac fly and Omar Infante’s single, then added runs in the eighth on a single by Morales and Mike Moustakas’s groundout.
Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias left in the sixth inning with tightness in his left groin, and is listed as day to day. Andrew Romine replaced him in the lineup.
Royals: All-Star closer Greg Holland (strained pectoral muscle) is expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday. He reported no problems after a simulated game Saturday.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene will take the mound after a day off to open a three-game set against the White Sox. The series beginning Tuesday night wraps up a 10-game trip.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas tries to solve his early season struggles in the opener of a three-game series against Cleveland on Tuesday night. Kansas City is off Monday.