KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Max Scherzer held the Royals in check while pitching into the seventh inning, Ryan Raburn belted a two-run homer and a shaky Detroit Tigers bullpen held on for a 3-1 victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.
Scherzer (10-4) scattered four hits over the first six innings before a pair of singles put runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh. Phil Coke sprinted in from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead and promptly retired Mike Moustakas on a fly ball to center field to end the threat.
Joaquin Benoit survived a leadoff single by Brayan Pena in the eighth inning, and Don Kelly homered off Royals All-Star Aaron Crow in the bottom half to give Detroit a two-run cushion.
Jose Valverde made the ninth inning an adventure, giving up a two-out walk to Eric Hosmer and an infield single to Jeff Francoeur. The All-Star closer came back to retire Moustakas with the tying run on second base, marching off the mound with an emphatic fist pump after his 22nd save in 22 chances.
Moustakas went 0 for 4. He was 0 for 11 in the Royals’ recent series against the White Sox.
Scherzer finally joined teammate Justin Verlander in reaching the double-digit win plateau in his fourth attempt — and first since he was shelled for nine runs in two innings against San Francisco.
The big right-hander and former University of Missouri star out-pitched Royals rookie Danny Duffy (1-4), whose only major mistake over six stellar innings was a 1-2 delivery to Raburn with two outs in the second that went soaring into the Kansas City bullpen.
The two-run homer brought home Miguel Cabrera, and Scherzer and the Detroit bullpen made the meager lead stand up for the struggling Tigers’ second straight win
The Royals scored their only run in the fifth, when Hosmer shot a pitch the opposite way down the left-field line for a leadoff double. He advanced to third on Francoeur’s fly ball to the warning track before scoring on Moustakas’ groundout to second base.
Hosmer nearly gave the Royals the lead in his next at-bat.
Alex Gordon led off the seventh inning with a base hit and was still standing on first base when Hosmer turned on a pitch from Verlander and sent the ball flying down the right-field line. It just skirted the pole and landed about half a dozen seats into foul territory.
Scherzer struck out the rookie first baseman moments later with a 96-mph fastball.
The Royals’ inability to score squandered the best start of Duffy’s young career. The 22-year-old left-hander, who many pundits consider the franchise’s future ace, allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked one while throwing 65 of 102 pitches for strikes.
Notes: Royals C Jason Kendall has re-torn the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. The 37-year-old will have surgery next week in Los Angeles that will sideline him at least through 2012. Manager Ned Yost did not say whether he expects Kendall to retire. ... Detroit DH Victor Martinez was second in the AL All-Star final vote standings behind Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox. Gordon was third. ... Tigers OF Austin Jackson left the game after his first at-bat with a sore left wrist.