DETROIT -- Jim Leyland is a big fan of Placido Polanco.
Polanco also hit a solo home run and tripled.
"He's the kind of guy you like working for you every day no matter what field you're in," Leyland said. "He comes to work prepared every day."
Polanco said a compliment like that from someone of Leyland's stature is a great motivator.
"I work hard every day," Polanco added. "I keep saying if you take this game for granted and you relax, it will kick you in the backside."
Polanco is hitting .379 this season and the second baseman's been among the best in the majors with runners in scoring position for the last three seasons.
"I always want to get a hit," he said. "I think maybe the pitcher is worried about who is coming up next and then I get better pitches to hit."
Magglio Ordonez had three hits and three RBIs and Marcus Thames homered.
David DeJesus had four hits with a homer and scored three runs for Kansas City, which is 1-7 on the road.
"It was a tough way to lose. We stayed with them but couldn't get it done," said DeJesus. "It's seem we always score runs but they come back and overtake us."
With the score 6-6, Omar Infante singled to lead off the eighth and was sacrificed to second by Neifi Perez. One out later, Polanco singled off David Riske (0-2).
"You can't fall behind the hitters," said Riske. "You have to get that first strike. I didn't do that today."
Wilfredo Ledezma (3-0) earned the win despite giving up two runs in 2 1/3 innings. Todd Jones allowed one hit in the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances.
Detroit tied the game 6-6, in the seventh off Joel Peralta when Polanco tripled and scored on Gary Sheffield's double.
Sheffield continues to struggle after being acquired in a trade from the New York Yankees during the offseason. He's finding it difficult to adapt to being a full-time designated hitter. He's hitting .146 with a home run and 5 RBI.
"They're (the fans) pulling for me hard," Sheffield said. "And when you get in the batter's box, you probably try too hard. I just need to relax."
Reggie Sanders' two-out two-run double in the sixth gave Kansas City a 6-5 lead and capped a four-run outburst.
Tony Pena Jr. drove in the first run of the inning with a groundout that chased Tigers' starter Mike Maroth. DeJesus greeted Ledezma with a RBI single. And after a walk to German, Sanders drilled a 2-0 pitch down the right-field line.
Kansas City starter Jorge De La Rosa allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.
Maroth allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the first on Mike Sweeney's RBI single. It scored DeJesus, who led off the game with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Detroit tied it in the bottom half of the inning on Ordonez's two-out, run-scoring single. Rodriguez led off with a double and went to third on a flyout. Ordonez lined De La Rosa's 3-2 pitch into left-centerfield.
Ordonez put the Tigers ahead 3-1 with a two-run double in the third. It scored Rodriguez, who led off with a single, and Polanco, who reached on an error by Pena at short.
Thames made it 4-1 with his first homer of the year, leading off the fourth.
DeJesus pulled the Royals to within 4-2 with his third home run to lead off the top of the fifth.
Polanco restored Detroit's three-run lead with his first homer of the season, leading off the bottom of the fifth.
Detroit 3B Brandon Inge didn't play because of the flu. ... Tigers' RHP Jose Mesa has a groin strain and will pitch again Friday, at the earliest. ... It was DeJesus' fifth four-hit game. His last one came on July 16, of last season in Detroit against the Tigers. He also has a nine-game hitting streak against Detroit in which he is 22-for-40, with a home run, five doubles and three triples and 10 RBI.