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Tigers 6, Royals 3

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Prince Fielder drove in three runs with a home run and a single, and Justin Verlander broke a six-start winless streak to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

Detroit reduced its magic number for clinching the American League Central title to any combination of 10 Tigers wins or losses by the second-place Cleveland Indians. Kansas City's drive to earn a wild-card playoff berth was stalled.

Verlander (13-11) hadn't won since Aug. 6, but he lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out seven.

Fielder blasted his 24th home run following a leadoff double by Miguel Cabrera in the fourth, and he capped a three-run fifth with an RBI single that chased Bruce Chen (7-3).

Drew Smyly relieved Verlander and struck out Alex Gordon on a 2-2 breaking ball to end the seventh. Joaquin Benoit had to bail out Jose Veras with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, and Benoit went on to record his 19th save. He has worked more than one inning seven times this season, five since he became the closer in mid-June.

The Royals scored twice off Verlander in the sixth to cut their deficit to 6-3. Billy Butler hit an RBI single to left, and Salvador Perez followed with a run-scoring double to right-center.

The Tigers went up 6-1 with Torii Hunter hitting a two-run double in the fourth and Fielder knocking in his 102nd run of the season.

Fielder hit a two-run home run, his 24th, in the fourth to break a 1-1 tie and reach 100 RBIs for the third year in a row and sixth of the past seven.

Verlander slowed the Royals' running game with multiple throws to first, a pickoff and a throwout of Emilio Bonifacio at second by catcher Alex Avila (on a curveball).

Tossing out Bonifacio helped limit the damage in the fourth when Kansas City tied the score at 1 on an RBI double by Perez.

Detroit scored in the opening inning. Austin Jackson reached third with a leadoff double plus an error by Alex Gordon in left, and Hunter knocked him in with a slow grounder to short.

Chen gave up six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings.

NOTES: Kansas City manager Ned Yost elected to skip LHP Danny Duffy, whose turn it was to start Friday night, to keep his more veteran starters in order. Duffy slots back into the rotation Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians. ... Detroit has named its minor league player and pitcher of the year. 2B Devon Travis was the top player, hitting a combined .351 for Class A teams West Michigan and Lakeland. LHP Jose Alvarez, currently with the Tigers, was honored as the top pitcher. He signed as a free agent and went 8-6 with a 2.80 ERA for Triple-A Toledo. ... Gordon, a left-handed batter, entered the game hitting .245 against right-handers and .323 against southpaws.
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