Desi Relaford scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on Carlos Pena's throwing error as the Royals won 4-3 Sunday to hand the Tigers their 16th loss in 17 games this season.
The Royals extended the best start in franchise history to 14-3 and are 8-0 at Kauffman Stadium, the only undefeated team at home this season. The Tigers matched the worst start in the majors since Kansas City also lost 16 of 17 to open the 1992 season.
"We scratched and clawed for everything we got," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "It seemed like it comes a lot easier on the other side, which is the way it happens when you're not going well."
Relaford led off the ninth against Mike Maroth (0-5) with a grounder to the hole at shortstop. Omar Infante fielded the ball and threw it wildly into the dugout, sending Relaford to second with an infield hit and an error.
Joe Randa then bunted toward first base. Pena fielded the ball and threw to first. But the throw hit Randa in the back and rolled into right field for an error, allowing Relaford to score without a play.
"I don't know where it rolled when it hit me in the back of the arm," Randa said. "I turned around and Relaford was crossing the plate and it was pretty crazy."
Randa almost didn't play after leaving Saturday's game with soreness in his left hamstring. Randa convinced manager Tony Pena he was healthy enough to play and drove in three runs, including a two-run homer in the first.
"I almost didn't play," Randa said. "When I came out yesterday, my leg was pretty sore. I felt good enough to play today and Tony wanted me in the lineup.
"We talked about it. He trusts me on how I feel. Today I felt like I had enough to go. I told him I'd give him everything I got."
The Tigers came into the game with only seven errors but committed three in their fifth loss in five meetings against Kansas City this season.
Mike MacDougal (1-0) pitched the ninth for the win.
Randa, who left Saturday's game with tightness in his left hamstring, hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a sacrifice fly in the sixth to lead Kansas City.
Maroth pitched a four-hitter in his first career complete game.
"His ball was moving everywhere," Tigers catcher Matt Walbeck said. "His pitches were invisible. He was making pitches out of this world. He deserves a better record that what he's shown, as do some of our other pitchers, not just him."
The Tigers scored a run in the first when Miguel Asencio walked Eric Munson with the bases loaded.
After Randa's third homer of the year gave Kansas City a 2-1 lead, the Tigers tied it in the second on Bobby Higginson's RBI single.
"We worked so hard one run in the first inning and they get two like that (on Randa's home run)," Trammell said. "It was a tough loss. We definitely had our opportunities."
Munson's sacrifice fly in the fifth put the Tigers up 3-2, but the Royals tied it in the sixth. Angel Berroa led off with a double, went to third on Relaford's bunt and scored on Randa's sacrifice fly.
Asencio allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.
- Royals first baseman Ken Harvey suffered a bruised left knee on a collision at the bag with Infante in the ninth inning and was replaced by Mendy Lopez. Pena said Harvey should be ready to play Tuesday, the next Royals' game.
- Royals catcher Brent Mayne threw out Infante trying to steal second in the sixth and Ramon Santiago trying to steal second in the fourth. Mayne has thrown out six of 10 attempted base stealers.
- The Royals put Jeremy Affeldt on the disabled list with a finger blister and called up right-hander Jeremy Hill from Triple-A Omaha.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved