DETROIT - Lucas French didn't allow himself a chance to focus on who he was pitching against until after the game.
After earning his first career victory, he took a moment to realize what he had done. Making his second career start, the Tigers rookie outdueled all-star Zack
Greinke as Detroit defeated Kansas City 3-1.
"You can't pitch against the other guy, so you are trying to just think about what you are doing and not worry about him," French said. "But to get my first win, and to get it against a guy like that? Yeah, that's huge. This is something you dream about."
French (1-0) held the Royals to one run and six hits in 61/3 innings.
"When you are going against a guy like Greinke, you know that you are going to have to get a great game from your starter," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "If you give up three or four runs, he's going to beat you, so I was very happy with what French did tonight."
Three Tigers relievers finished, with Fernando Rodney pitching the ninth for his 19th save in as many tries.
Greinke (10-5) gave up three runs, all in the first two innings, and seven hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
"I wasn't hit that hard, but it won the game for them," he said. "It's a tough one because I pitched pretty good and kept them off balance. In the first two innings, everything that could go wrong did."
Billy Butler had three doubles for the Royals.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first, helped by Kansas City's first defensive mistake. Curtis Granderson walked, and Placido Polanco singled to left. Polanco took a large turn, then easily moved to second as David DeJesus threw toward the plate.
"He gives up the leadoff walk, and then we let Polanco walk to second because we don't get the ball to the base," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said. "That hurt us."
Marcus Thames drove in the first run with a ground out, and Clete Thomas singled to second to make it 2-0.
"The play by Polanco was huge," Leyland said. "First, he executes the hit-and-run, and then he gets to second base. If he doesn't do that, the ball by Thames is a double play, and we don't score."
Detroit added a third run in the second when Josh Anderson doubled, took third when Greinke couldn't handle Gerald Laird's bunt single, and scored on Ramon Santiago's sacrifice fly.
"That was a stupid play because it was a terrible bunt," Greinke said. "If I catch that, it is a double play, and even then, I made a five-hop throw to first."
Greinke struck out eight batters in the next four innings, but the Royals couldn't take advantage until Alberto Callaspo's seventh-inning homer.
"We just didn't do anything offensively to get Zack back in the game," Hillman said.
NOTES: Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game that Thomas and Magglio Ordonez will platoon in right field, with Thomas playing against right-handed pitchers and Ordonez against lefties. ... French has a 2.45 ERA in his two starts and a 1.93 ERA in four major-league appearances.