Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Omar Infante went 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI as the red-hot Kansas City Royals opened a key four-game series with the Detroit Tigers with an 11-8 decision at Comerica Park.
The Royals racked up 17 hits and battered the struggling Justin Verlander for seven runs in six innings en route to their eighth consecutive victory, though they had to withstand a six-run ninth by the Tigers that was highlighted by J.D. Martinez's grand slam.
Billy Butler added a three-run double and Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain each finished 3-for-5 with an RBI for Kansas City, which now sits just a half-game back of Detroit for first place in the AL Central.
Jason Vargas (7-2) did his part on the mound as well, holding the Tigers to two runs on seven hits through seven effective innings.
Verlander (6-7), on the other hand, was tagged for 12 hits to fall to 1-5 over his last six outings. The former AL Cy Young winner has now allowed five or more runs in six of his past seven assignments and his home fans made their feelings known.
"I don't blame the fans for booing," Verlander said. "They are frustrated with me, just like I'm frustrated with myself. I would have probably booed myself tonight. They've cheered me a lot of times, and they will cheer me again."
Rajai Davis went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs for Detroit, while Victor Martinez collected two hits, an RBI and two runs scored.
Verlander was sharp the first time through the Kansas City order, yielding just one hit through the opening three innings. He surrendered three in the fourth -- though he escaped damage by getting Butler to ground into a key double play -- then was hit hard in the fifth while attempting to protect a 2-0 lead.
"It just proves the guy is human," Butler said. "Everybody is human once in a while. Our confidence level is about as high as it can be right now. We're going really good."
Singles by Nori Aoki and Infante followed an Alcides Escobar double to get the Royals on the board, and an infield hit from Eric Hosmer preceded Butler's bases-clearing double to the center-field wall that put Kansas City up by a 4-2 count.
The Royals continued to get good swings off Verlander an inning later, with a Cain double and a walk to Aoki setting up Infante's blast into the Kansas City bullpen that extended the margin to five runs.
"The minute that you think a guy's struggling, you're going to get spanked," KC manager Ned Yost said. "So we don't ever think like that."
Vargas, in contrast, settled down after a somewhat shaky beginning. Davis reached him for a double that brought home Alex Avila in the third for a 1-0 Detroit edge, while singles from Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson in the fourth accounted for another Tigers' run.
The left-hander retired 11-of-13 hitters after Jackson's RBI single, and exited with a comfortable 11-2 advantage when the Royals tacked on four more runs in the seventh.
Cain and Escobar each delivered RBI singles during the frame, with the hits coming in between a bases-loaded throwing error by Tigers reliever Evan Reed that enabled both Gordon and Brett Hayes to cross the plate.
Detroit made it a bit interesting with Donnie Joseph on the hill in the ninth, however.
The Tigers quickly loaded the bases on a Nick Castellanos double, an Andrew Romine single and a walk in front of Davis' run-scoring hit. Joseph recovered to strike out the next two hitters, but J.D. Martinez belted a slider over the wall in left to cut the deficit to 11-8.
Michael Mariot then replaced Joseph and fanned Jackson looking for the final out.