DETROIT -- Jose Valverde made his startling return to Detroit a hit -- instead of giving up hits.
Valverde came out of the bullpen Wednesday night to pitch in his first game back with the Tigers, and he closed out a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
The 35-year-old veteran had his contract purchased Tuesday from the club's Class A Lakeland farm club, where he pitched three games in four days without allowing a run.
Against Kansas City, Valverde worked exclusive with a fastball that was clocked at 92-94 mph in a 1-2-3 ninth. He earned a save in his first game back with Detroit since three disastrous postseason appearances last fall contributed to the Tigers allowing him to leave as a free agent. He was signed to a minor league contract two games into this season.
A smattering of boos turned to cheers when those who remained of the 30,347 fans realized who was coming on for the save opportunity.
Max Scherzer (2-0) struggled with the cold -- 41 degrees at game time -- and his control to last five innings and pick up the victory. Al Alburquerque didn't allow a run in 1 2/3 innings, and Joaquin Benoit returned to his familiar setup role and contributed 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief.
A run-allowing error by Royals third baseman Alex Gordon with runners on first and second in the fourth led to four unearned runs as the Tigers took a 7-4 lead.
Miguel Cabrera's sacrifice fly broke a 4-4 tie. Victor Martinez had a sharp RBI single to left-center, and Jhonny Peralta walked with the bases loaded to make it 7-4.
Royals starter Wade Davis (2-1) couldn't get past the costly error, and reliever Luis Mendoza walked the first two batters he faced, including run-scoring free pass to Peralta.
Davis allowed seven runs (three earned) on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Omar Infante had three hits for Detroit, and Cabrera, Martinez and Peralta had two apiece.
For Kansas City, Eric Hosmer went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and two walks.
NOTES: Mendoza was in the bullpen to back up Davis because his start scheduled for Wednesday was washed out by Tuesday's rain. He is expected to return to the rotation Monday against Cleveland in Kansas City. ... LHP Duane Below was designated for assignment Wednesday by Detroit to make room on the 40-man roster for Valverde. If Below is not traded or claimed off waivers in 10 days, the Tigers would ask him to report to Triple-A Toledo, an assignment he could refuse. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas, caught in a 2-for-19 slump entering Wednesday, took a heavy dose of extra batting practice to get back on track. ... Valverde reported to Detroit and said he had offers of Major League contracts from the New York Yankees and Mets between seasons but neither was to his liking. ... Kansas City was 5-13 against Detroit last season, only 1-8 at Comerica Park.