Miguel Cabrera and Andy Dirks belted solo homers to back six sharp innings from Doug Fister as the Detroit Tigers averted a three-game series sweep by the Kansas City Royals with a 4-1 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Dirks was one of four Detroit players to finish with two hits, while Brayan Pena added two RBI on a pair of sacrifice flies for the AL Central leaders.
Fister (8-5) did his part by holding the Royals to a run on six hits while striking out five before turning the game over to the bullpen, where three Tiger relievers kept Kansas City off the board the rest of the way.
"I felt great today, from the first pitch to the last," Fister said. "I'm right where I need to be."
Joaquin Benoit gave up a hit in the ninth before closing things out for his ninth save in as many chances this season.
The Royals went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position en route to their sixth loss in eight games, with Miguel Tejada's solo homer in the second inning accounting for the club's lone run.
"We hit a lot of balls hard on the ground, we just couldn't get that big hit," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said.
James Shields (4-7) worked seven innings in defeat for Kansas City, allowing three runs on nine hits while fanning six.
The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 when Dirks hammered a Shields pitch deep to straightaway center field with one out in the top of the fifth, with the ball landing over the wall just beyond the reach of a leaping Lorenzo Cain. The Tigers added to the lead in the seventh, an inning which began with three straight singles that loaded the bases with none out.
Shields limited the damage by striking out Dirks and getting Pena on a fly ball that scored Prince Fielder from third, and later left the bases loaded by fanning Austin Jackson to keep it a two-run game.
The Royals couldn't generate any offense over the latter stages, however, as Drew Smiley and Bruce Rondon both retired the side in order after taking over for Fister. Mike Moustakas reached Benoit for an infield hit to begin the bottom of the ninth, but was erased on a double-play grounder off the bat of Tejada.
Cabrera's 31st homer of the season, a line-drive shot just inside the foul pole in left, put Detroit up 1-0 after one inning. The Royals drew even when Tejada crushed a Fister fastball into the seats in left center in the bottom of the second.