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Kansas City at Detroit

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Kansas City (70-86)000000031465
Detroit (84-72) «220000001580

Tigers walk off with W over Royals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- Doug Fister was breezing along after striking out nine straight batters and setting an American League record.

Detroit led by four runs in the eighth inning -- but for the 2012 Tigers, nothing has come easy.

The Tigers nearly wasted Fister's dazzling streak, blowing a big lead late before beating the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Thursday. They kept their advantage in the AL Central when Alex Avila drove home the winning run in the ninth with a bases-loaded grounder.

Detroit's lead in the AL Central grew to two games when the slumping Chicago White Sox lost to Tampa Bay 3-2.

"Getting a win is big," Avila said. "We have to be able to win tight games like this. It's the only way we're going to be able to get in the playoffs and go far in the playoffs."

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Detroit finished 50-31 at home this season -- and will now try to wrap up the division on the road. The Tigers play three games at Minnesota, followed by a season-ending three-game series at Kansas City.

Fister came within one strikeout of matching Tom Seaver's major-league record of 10 in a row. He struck out Salvador Perez to end the top of the fourth, starting a streak that didn't end until Perez grounded out to the shortstop on a two-strike pitch in the seventh.

"It's crazy, to go through a whole lineup and strike everybody out," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "And I don't think he threw more than four pitches to any of the batters."

The AL record of eight consecutive strikeouts had been accomplished several times, most recently by Kansas City's Blake Stein on June 17, 2001.

After Perez grounded out for the third out of the seventh, first baseman Prince Fielder put his arm around Fister as they headed back to the dugout.

"I said, 'Congratulations, man. You made history.' He was like, 'What are you doing?'" Fielder said. "He was locked in so it was kind of like, 'Get away from me.' I was like, 'All right, they'll tell you.'"

At that point, Fister had retired 16 straight hitters and Detroit led 4-0 -- but he was oblivious to the strikeout record.

"Honestly, I had no idea," Fister said. "[Fielder] was yelling at me to step off during the inning, and I kind of looked at him. Normally, he'll do that, to slow me down, if I'm getting too quick. ... I thought that was kind of what he was doing there. He just said, 'Hey, step off.' I look at him, and he kept looking at me, and he said, 'Aw, I'll tell you later.'"

Fister's performance almost went for naught. The Royals scored three runs in the eighth, and Billy Butler tied it in the ninth with a solo homer off Joaquin Benoit (5-3).

Fielder led off the Detroit ninth with a chopper that went past the mound and charging shortstop Tony Abreu. The hefty slugger made it all the way to second for a double on a ball that only ended up a few feet beyond the infield.

Delmon Young was intentionally walked, and pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago bunted into a forceout at third, leaving runners at first and second. Kelvin Herrera replaced Tim Collins (5-4) on the mound and got Jhonny Peralta to hit what looked like a potential double-play grounder to third, but Mike Moustakas misplayed it for his third error of the game -- and Kansas City's fifth.

Avila hit a full-count pitch to first baseman Brayan Pena, who made a diving stop and touched the bag, but had no play at home.

"Pena still made a great play on that one," Fielder said. "Baseball is really hard because even if you're good, you have to be a little lucky, too."

Fister finished with 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs and five hits.

Kansas City's Luis Mendoza allowed two earned runs in seven innings.

Francoeur hit an RBI double in the eighth, Johnny Giavotella added an RBI groundout, and Abreu, pinch-hitting, drove in a run with a single to make it 4-3.

Detroit took a 4-0 lead thanks in part to four Kansas City errors in the first two innings.

Moustakas was charged with two errors on one grounder by Quintin Berry -- one for mishandling it and another for a bad throw. Fielder drove in a run later in the first with a single, advancing to second on an error by left fielder Alex Gordon.

Young hit a sacrifice fly, and Gordon threw Fielder out at home on a single by Andy Dirks to end the inning.

Berry's two-run triple in the second made it 4-0.

Notes

  • Detroit closer Jose Valverde was sick and unavailable.
  • Royals 1B Eric Hosmer left the game with a strained right shoulder.
  • The Tigers play at Minnesota on Friday night. LHP Drew Smyly (4-3) will start because of an injury to Max Scherzer. Minnesota will counter with LHP Scott Diamond (12-8).
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Alex Avila's fielders-choice grounder to first scores Don Kelly (background) to deliver the victory.  (Getty Images)
Alex Avila's fielders-choice grounder to first scores Don Kelly (background) to deliver the victory. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Detroit

Q. Berry
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
Kansas City

L. Mendoza
IP 7.0
H 7
ER 2
BB 1
K 6
 
Kansas City Royals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
David Lough, CF4110010 .244
Alcides Escobar, SS3000010 .289
   a- Tony Abreu, PH-SS1011000 .302
Alex Gordon, LF4000021 .291
Billy Butler, DH4111010 .314
Salvador Perez, C4010010 .294
Mike Moustakas, 3B4110021 .243
Jeff Francoeur, RF3111010 .237
Eric Hosmer, 1B1000002 .232
    Brayan Pena, 1B2000011 .251
Johnny Giavotella, 2B3001010 .228
Totals33464011  
a-singled for Escobar in the 8th
Batting
2B - Mike Moustakas (33, Fister), Jeff Francoeur (25, Fister)
HR - Billy Butler (28, Benoit)
RBI - Tony Abreu (13), Billy Butler (104), Jeff Francoeur (44), Johnny Giavotella (15)
2-OUT RBI - Tony Abreu (8)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Alex Gordon 2
E - Alcides Escobar (19, Throwing), Alex Gordon (2, Misplayed grounder), Mike Moustakas 3 (14, Throwing)
Kansas City Royals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Luis Mendoza 7742160 4.36
Aaron Crow 1000020 3.30
Tim Collins (L,5-4) 0.1110100 3.39
Kelvin Herrera 0.1000000 2.40
IBB - Young by Tim Collins
Pitches-Strikes - Luis Mendoza 86-57, Aaron Crow 11-9, Tim Collins 9-4, Kelvin Herrera 11-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luis Mendoza 6-7, Aaron Crow 1-0, Tim Collins 1-0, Kelvin Herrera 2-0
Batters Faced - Luis Mendoza 27, Aaron Crow 3, Tim Collins 3, Kelvin Herrera 2
Detroit Tigers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Austin Jackson, CF3100130 .303
Quintin Berry, LF4112000 .264
Miguel Cabrera, 3B4110011 .326
Prince Fielder, 1B4021010 .310
Delmon Young, DH2001110 .272
    Don Kelly, PR-DH0100000 .187
Andy Dirks, RF3010001 .319
   a- Ramon Santiago, PH1000002 .206
Jhonny Peralta, SS4010010 .242
Alex Avila, C4011010 .248
Omar Infante, 2B3110000 .277
Totals3258528  
a-hit into fielder's choice-bunting for Dirks in the 9th
Batting
2B - Prince Fielder (32, Collins)
3B - Quintin Berry (6, Mendoza)
SF - Delmon Young (7)
RBI - Quintin Berry 2 (29), Prince Fielder (105), Delmon Young (74), Alex Avila (48)
2-OUT RBI - Quintin Berry 2 (8)
CS - Jhonny Peralta (2, 2nd base by Mendoza/Perez)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
PB - Alex Avila (10)
Detroit Tigers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Doug Fister 7.25320100 3.38
Phil Coke (H,20) 0.1000000 3.93
Joaquin Benoit (BS,4; W,5-3) 1111011 3.23
HBP - Francoeur (by Doug Fister)
Pitches-Strikes - Doug Fister 99-70, Phil Coke 4-3, Joaquin Benoit 15-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Doug Fister 9-4, Phil Coke 1-0, Joaquin Benoit 1-1
Batters Faced - Doug Fister 29, Phil Coke 1, Joaquin Benoit 4
Game Information
Attendance - 33019
Game Time - 2:23
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Cory Blaser, Third Base - Chris Guccione