- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Detroit is in prime position to win its fourth consecutive AL Central title. So while a sweep in Kansas City would have been nice, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was feeling pretty good as he headed home for the last part of the regular season.

Rick Porcello was knocked out in the fourth inning, and the Tigers went on to a 5-2 loss to the Royals on Sunday.

Kansas City pulled within 1 1/2 games of Detroit for the top spot in the division. The Tigers finished a 3-3 road trip.

“Certainly it’s nice to get two out of three,” Ausmus said. “If we would have swept I would have liked it even more. But we got one out of three in Minnesota so the road trip wasn’t what we would have liked. It’s hard to sweep and it’s difficult in their ballpark. I’m happy with two of three and now we’ll go home.”

The Tigers finish with seven home games against Chicago and Minnesota, the two bottom teams in the division. The Tigers are 3-4 at home against the White Sox, and 3-3 against the Twins.

“Sometimes it’s not who you are facing, it’s when you are facing them,” Ausmus said. “And a lot of times it’s a particular team matching up well. There’s not always an answer to something like that. It’s just baseball.

“I’m not comfortable. We can’t take either of these teams lightly. They can put a dent in the pennant race. We will take them seriously.”

The Tigers went 13-6 against the Royals this season. But they have had some problems against the White Sox and Twins.

“I want fans to know it’s never easy,” Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. “The Twins and White Sox will put their ‘A’ teams out there. They want to be spoilers. You don’t want to get too complacent or baseball will slap you right in the face. We have to wipe the smiles off our faces. We’ve got too much to do.”

Nori Aoki hit a tiebreaking two-run triple in the fourth for Kansas City, making it 4-2 and chasing Porcello from the game.

Porcello (15-12) is 0-4 in his past five starts. He yielded nine hits and walked two in 3 1-3 innings.

“It was tough,” Porcello said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, so I’m disappointed.”

Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie (12-11) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and was pulled after 81 pitches and 5 1-3 innings, yielding one earned run.

The Royals’ dominant bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland held the Tigers scoreless after Guthrie exited.

Davis struck out two, bringing his total to 103, tying a Royals record for a reliever. Holland threw a perfect ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances, and his first since Sept. 3.

Alex Gordon added an RBI double in the seventh for Kansas City, snapping an 0-for-14 slump.

Ian Kinsler hit his 16th homer in the third for the Tigers.

J.D. Martinez scored in the fourth on an error by Mike Moustakas at third base. Moustakas has committed six errors in the past 12 games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (right pectoral strain) pitched a three-inning simulated game. If he feels good Monday, he likely would be activated this week with a role to be determined. … C Alex Avila (concussion) took part in the simulated game. “I’ll come in tomorrow and get tested with the doctors and see if they give me a thumbs up,” Avila said.

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy, who has missed his previous two starts with a sore shoulder, will return to the rotation Monday, starting at Cleveland.

UP NEXT

Tigers: Rookie LHP Kyle Lobstein, who has walked 11 and struck out 18 in 27 2-3 innings, will start the series opener at home against the White Sox on Monday night.

Royals: Kansas City will need to rally quickly when it plays in Cleveland on Monday. The teams will resume their game that was suspended by rain Aug. 31 in Kansas City, with the Indians leading 4-2 going to the bottom of the 10th. The Royals and Cleveland will then play their regularly scheduled game.


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