Tigers 7, Royals 3

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DETROIT (AP)—Wil Ledezma made his last start in the Tigers’ rotation a strong one.

Ledezma (4-2) gave up two runs—one earned—and seven hits in six innings to lead Detroit to a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday. The 23-year-old left-hander will move to the bullpen to reduce the number of innings he throws the rest of this year.

“I feel great, but it isn’t my decision,” he said. “I’m very happy with the season I have had.”

Ledezma went 12-4 for Double-A Erie before coming to Detroit in mid-July. He has pitched 155 2-3 innings this season.

“This is where we have to pull the plug,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “Wil doesn’t agree, but we’ll do what is best for him and for the organization.”

The Tigers’ second straight win was their 63rd of the season, preventing them from losing at least 100 games for a third straight season. Detroit lost an American League-record 119 games in 2003.

“It’s only Sept. 6, so honestly, we knew we were going to get there,” Trammell said. “It’s a nice feeling after last year, but we want to keep going.”

Detroit hadn’t played since Friday, when it won at Tampa Bay but had the last two games of the series postponed because of Hurricane Frances. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was not with the team because he was delayed in transit from Miami, where he had stayed with his family during the hurricane.

Gary Knotts pitched the final three innings and gave up two hits and one run — Angel Berroa’s solo homer in the ninth—for his second save.

Denny Bautista (0-1) lost in his first major league start, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings. The Royals have lost three of four.

“I was a little nervous in the first inning, but I was OK after that,” Bautista said.

Detroit jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, helped by two mistakes by Kansas City’s defense.

Carlos Guillen singled with two outs and Dmitri Young walked. Carlos Pena lifted a harmless-looking fly ball to shallow left, but Desi Relaford broke the wrong way and failed to make a diving catch, giving Pena an RBI double.

“The last time I played against these guys, Pena hit a ball over my head, so I was playing deep and I got a bad read on the ball,” Relaford said. “If I make that play, it might have been a different game.”

Monroe’s single made it 2-0 when no one covered first on a grounder between first and the mound. Jason Smith followed with a single to left, scoring Pena.

“We just played terrible defense,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “They scored three runs off the kid, but they didn’t deserve them.”

Kansas City left the bases loaded in the third, but scored twice in the next inning—thanks to some sloppy defense by the Tigers.

Ken Harvey reached second on shortstop Guillen’s throwing error on his grounder, and scored on Joe Randa’s single to right. Randa ended up on second when Bobby Higginson misplayed the ball, and he scored when Matt Stairs doubled down the right-field line.

Monroe made it 4-2 in the sixth with his 13th homer. He has hit in 19 of his last 20 games.

Infante drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off D.J. Carrasco in the eighth.

Notes

Detroit was also missing closer Ugueth Urbina, who remained in Venezuela, where he was dealing with the kidnapping of his mother. The top investigator for Venezuela’s federal police said that no suspects have been identified in the kidnapping of Maura Villareal. … Tigers 3B Eric Munson was also not with the team because his wife went into labor on Monday morning. … Bautista was making his Royals debut after starting his major league career by pitching twice for Baltimore in relief in May. … Kansas City reliever Jamie Cerda struck out the side on 13 pitches in the seventh.

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