Max Scherzer began the game Wednesday night and went five strong innings. Doug Fister came into the game in relief and was even better, tossing three scoreless frames. And Jose Valverde finished up the Tigers' 6-3 victory for his 47th save in as many chances.
Just like Leyland had drawn up.
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"That was just what we got to do," Leyland said. "We have to get everything lined up for the playoffs, so we used our pitching like that tonight, and it worked out fine."
Ryan Raburn was hit by a pitch from Kelvin Herrera (0-1) in the eighth inning and eventually scored the go-ahead run. Don Kelly added a two-run shot moments later, and Victor Martinez added the other three RBI as Detroit wrapped up a long road trip with its 25th victory in 32 games.
"I feel very good about the playoffs," said Scherzer, who allowed two runs in his five innings of work. Fister (10-13) allowed an unearned run the three innings he was in the game.
The late rally off Herrera by the AL Central champs spoiled the Royals' chance to finish with a winning record at home for the first time since 2000. Instead, Kansas City heads out for a season-ending six-game road trip with a 40-41 mark at Kauffman Stadium.
"It's my first time," said Herrera, who admitted being a bit nervous. "I've got to do more than that."
Detroit struck first when Felipe Paulino walked Austin Jackson to lead off the game. The speedy Tigers outfielder stole second base easily and then scored on Martinez's single.
Kansas City answered in the bottom half of the first with RBI doubles by Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur. Butler's double was his 40th of the season, making Kansas City only the fourth franchise in major-league history with four players with that many doubles. The other teams to accomplish the feat were the 2006 Rangers, the '32 Phillies and the '29 Tigers.
Martinez tied the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth.
The Royals pulled back ahead in the sixth when Melky Cabrera led off with a double. Butler singled to right field moments later, and Raburn -- who had entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the inning -- couldn't get a handle on the ball. His error allowed Cabrera to scamper home.
Everything unraveled for the Royals when Herrera entered the game in the eighth inning, and the Tigers capitalized on his mistakes to win for the 27th time in their past 40 away from home.
Now, they head back to Comerica Park for four games against the Orioles and three against the Indians, and then it's on to bigger and -- the Tigers hope -- better things.
"It's awesome. We came out and played hard, played 100 percent," Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera said. "It's going to be nice going home and getting ready for the playoffs."
Royals starter Felipe Paulino each allowed two runs over five innings. ... The other Royals with at least 40 doubles this season are Francoeur, Cabrera and Alex Gordon. ... The Royals designated 1B Kila Ka'aihue for assignment to create roster space for Herrera. ... RHP Jacob Turner is on the mound for the Tigers in their series opener against Baltimore. ... The Royals are off Thursday before facing the White Sox on Friday night. RHP Bruce Chen gets the start for Kansas City. ... The Royals finished the home schedule with 1,724,450 in paid attendance, an average of 21,290.