DETROIT - Eric Hosmer, one of the bright rookie stars of two years ago, is back and just maybe the Kansas City Royals are too.
Hosmer hit a home run in each end of Friday's doubleheader to back great pitching by Kansas City and help the Royals to a sweep of the Detroit Tigers by a score of 3-0 in the second game and 2-1 in the first. Greg Holland saved both games of a doubleheader for the second time this season and now has 34 saves.
Danny Duffy went 5 2/3 innings before giving up a hit in the opener, and James Shields checked Detroit, which has one of the most potent offenses in the league, on three hits over seven innings in the nightcap.
"It was a great day by our pitching staff," Royals manager Ned Yost said after Kansas City cut its deficit to 61/2 games behind first-place Detroit with two games to go in the series. "From our starters to our bullpen. When you hold a team like that to one run in two games, you're pitching really great ball.
"We wanted to come in and compete against these guys."
Detroit's offense consisted of a pinch-hit home run by Ramon Santiago in the eighth inning of the first game. The Tigers had two hits in the opener and four in the second.
"We're a veteran team," Santiago said. "We know what we have to do to prepare. There are two more games to go in this series."
Justin Verlander (12-9) went eight innings and allowed seven hits in the opener. But one of those hits was a leadoff home run in the fourth by Hosmer. He also gave up two doubles, to Justin Maxwell and Emilio Bonifacio, to open the seventh.
"It was a hanger," Verlander said of the pitch that resulted in the Hosmer homer. "I don't hang too many that go over the fence to the opposite field. That was impressive. He's a strong kid."
Duffy (1-0) was making just his second start this season after coming back from June 2012 Tommy John surgery. Miguel Cabrera drilled a single off Bonifacio's glove at third with two out in the sixth for Detroit's first hit.
"I was glad they finally got one," Duffy said. "I knew I was coming out (after the sixth) anyway."
Duffy, who threw 96 pitches, has to return to the minors under the 26th man rule that allows teams to bring up a pitcher for a doubleheader without having to drop anyone from their roster.
Shields (8-8) allowed two Detroit runners in each of the first three innings but retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced. He allowed three hits, walked four and struck out one.
He retired Prince Fielder with runners on second and third and one out in the third and then got Victor Martinez to end the inning.
"The thing about Shields is he never gives in," Yost said. "Plus he's got the cajones to throw the pitches he needs to throw to get out of a jam. He threw five or six straight changeups to Fielder in the third inning and got Martinez out with a changeup."
Hosmer gave the Royals all the second-game runs they would need when he hit his 14th home run of the season following a walk to Jamey Carroll. The home run came off rookie lefty Jose Alvarez (1-3).
"It just shows he's back," Yost said of Hosmer, who had a bad 2012 and had just one home run through June 1. "I think it started for him when they brought George (Brett) and Pedro (Grifol) in (to be the hitting coaches) in June. They got him into a position where he could start swinging with confidence again."
Carroll had a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of the second game as Kansas City took advantage of a wild pickoff move by Jeremy Bonderman to score an unearned add-on run.
"This is simple," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "We just didn't muster up enough offensively in either game. Both sides pitched terrific, and we just didn't muster up enough offense."
NOTES: Royals' reserve C Brett Hayes, designated for assignment Aug. 11, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He appeared in three games for Kansas City, going 3-for-11. ... Leyland wanted to avoid using power pitcher RHP Bruce Rondon in either game Friday. The rookie had pitched three of the previous four days. Leyland also gave his closer, Joaquin Benoit, the day off after he'd recorded saves in each of Detroit's previous two games. ... Thirteen of Hosmer's 14 homers have come since June 1. "He's got a shorter stroke now," Yost said. "Plus more confidence."