ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
DETROIT -- Jim Leyland is trying to remain patient with his struggling Detroit Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila all homered, but the Tigers were unable to overcome a shaky defensive performance in a 9-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Detroit made four errors, including two errant pickoff throws that allowed runners to advance from first to third.
The Tigers have lost six of their first nine games and have yet to win a series. They lost two of three to Kansas City.
"I don't mind physical errors, but teams are going to take advantage of them," said Leyland, in his sixth season as Detroit's manager. "On the two bad throws by our pitchers, that let a runner go from first to third, which means they can score on a sacrifice fly, so it is even more damaging."
Wilson Betemit went 4 for 4 with two doubles for the Royals. Every Kansas City starter had a hit.
Luke Hochevar (1-1) gave up three homers, but Detroit managed only two other hits off him in seven innings. He easily outdueled Rick Porcello (0-2) in a matchup of former first-round draft picks. Three relievers finished for the Royals, with Joakim Soria getting the final two outs for his third save.
It was the first four-hit game for Betemit since July 14, 2007. He also drew a walk.
"That was a great day not only for me. The team played really hard," Betemit said. "We're starting good right now. We have to keep going."
Porcello was in trouble from the start. He made a wild pickoff throw in the first inning, putting a man on third with one out. He managed to pitch out of that jam, but Kansas City broke through in the third.
After a walk to Chris Getz, Melky Cabrera slapped a double down the left-field line. Ryan Raburn's throw in to second sailed high for an error, allowing Getz to score and Cabrera to take third. Alex Gordon drove in Cabrera with a groundout.
Peralta homered in the bottom half, but Kansas City answered with a run in the fourth. The Royals then scored two in the fifth, again with help from the sloppy Tigers. After a run-scoring triple by Jeff Francoeur and a walk by Betemit, Matt Treanor hit a potential double-play ball to third base that could have ended the inning. Instead, Brandon Inge threw wide of second for another error, and a run came home.
Porcello allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked three.
"As the game went on, I didn't do a good job of mixing my pitches. I got into a pattern, and they got all over that and started waiting on my sinker," Porcello said. "The pickoff was a bad throw, but that wasn't my issue today."
Avila hit a solo homer in the sixth. Umpires reviewed the play because a fan reached over a railing to catch the ball in right field, but it appeared the ball was above the wall.
Betemit drove in a run in the seventh with a double when right fielder Brennan Boesch was unable to make the catch while jumping near the wall.
"I haven't seen a replay, but I know I just barely missed it," Boesch said. "I think it might have gone right over the top of my glove. I was going all out, and I just didn't get there."
Alcides Escobar made it 7-2 later in the inning with an RBI single.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, but another wild pickoff throw this one by reliever Daniel Schlereth helped Kansas City score a run in the eighth.
NOTES: Detroit DH Victor Martinez lobbed a few batting practice pitches to his son before the game. Victor Jose, 6, showed good edge-of-the-infield power while hitting from both sides of the plate. His father is also a switch hitter. ... The temperature at game time was 64 degrees, about 20 degrees warmer than for Detroit's first two home games. ... Kansas City's Billy Butler extended his hitting streak to eight games and 22 straight against the Tigers. ... Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez missed his third game this season. Ordonez broke his ankle last July.